Free local radio provides valuable exposure and promotion to record labels and artists simply by playing their songs ... for free. But what are the artists getting from their record labels? Not much, according to a recent lawsuit filed by more than a dozen artists against the world's largest label, Universal Music.Talking about misdirection bordering on negligent manipulation. Puffery, such as the allegations that the "performance tax" will put some radio stations out of business, is to be expected from an activist group. However, for the love of all things, what in the world does an artist's record royalty have to do with a performance royalty?! If anything, this is an argument in support of performance royalties, i.e., we can't trust labels to properly account to their artists for record sales, so recording artists should get paid a performance royalty from third-party organizations just like their songwriting counterparts (and like recording artists themselves get from online radio).
The NAB illustrates the lunacy of their position every time they talk about it. They, the representatives of a highly consolidated industry with a reprehensible record, are trying to play a sympathy card. They portray radio conglomerates as a social good because they don't charge the public to listen to their stations, but NAB fails to mention the billions of dollars made off of advertisements. They also fail to mention how insignificant a sound recording royalty would likely be to most operators' bottom lines.
I hope Congress doesn't let Clear Channel, Cumulus and their cohorts convince them that terrestrial radio (still) deserves special consideration; if the arguments that are gaining traction in Washington are as ridiculous as those in NAB's ad, the artists are going to be in serious trouble.