To hear the National Association of Broadcasters tell it, last week’s vote by the House Judiciary Committee to require radio stations to pay performance royalties sounded the death knell for “America’s hometown radio stations.”
By a vote of 21 to 9, the Committee passed H.R. 848, the “Performance Rights Act,” introduced by Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr., who represents Detroit, the birthplace of Motown Records. A music lover, Conyers organizes a jazz concert and gospel extravaganza during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s annual legislative conference.
If signed into law, the Act would require radio stations to pay a fee to record labels, which would split the royalties with performance artists. Currently, only songwriters and publishers are paid royalties by terrestrial radio stations.
In an interview with “Open Line” on 98.7 KISS FM, NAB Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton questioned why “record labels would bite the hand that feeds them”:
Radio stations are the best promotional vehicle that record labels and their artists have ever seen.
Wharton claims NAB is standing up for “local radio, not foreign record labels”:
If it’s about fairness to artists, why would Congress give any money to record labels given how they have treated artists?
NAB estimates performance royalties would cost radio stations an additional $2 billion to $7 billion a year.
The John Conyers Performance Tax Bill is the brain child of the foreign owned record industry who would receive at least 50% of the revenue that would be charged to radio stations in order for them to play music. The music that you now receive free from us - we would have to pay millions of dollars for.
And in the midst of this economic depression, black radio stations simply do not have that financial ability.
Hughes urged listeners to call or email Conyers:
TELL HIM that you oppose this bill that would murder Black owned radio and the free music that you now hear on all free radio stations. In the midst of an American economic recession, it is not the right time to send millions of dollars to foreign owned record companies that don’t even pay taxes like you and me in this country. This bill is not in the interest of Black people! Please help us save Black radio!
Truth be told, there is nothing to save. Black radio died a long ago.
Meanwhile, the musicFIRST Coalition, which includes the Rhythm & Blues Foundation, wants radio listeners to “join the fight for performance rights” and call their Representative and tell them to support Conyers’ bill.