Snippets from my cell phone-composed piece (oh, the photo above of the Capitol was taken with my phone, too!) in The Tripwire:
Along with Rusty Hodge and Elise Nordling of SomaFM and Corey Denis of Reapandsow, I traveled to Washington DC this week to talk with members of Congress about saving independent internet radio from copyright royalty rate ruin.Congress might want to consider Joyce Moore's (wife and manager of Sam) words from just three years ago: "Sam was told his pension would be $63.67 a month," says Joyce Moore, his wife and manager. "It should have been $8,000. It's wrong, and it all ties back to royalties. From 1965 to 1992, Atlantic contributed not one penny to Sam's pension. The whole problem is accounting and accountability. We know the labels don't know how to count except
Congress does not want to be involved in this battle. They want to see a settlement reached between SoundExchange and webcasters.
Meanwhile, we attended a House subcommittee hearing [Tuesday] on the new battle to extend the artist performance royalty to terrestrial radio, which has been exempted from this fee since the 1920's. This is potentially devastating news for over-the-air radio. SoundExchange (which is front for the widely-reviled RIAA, whom is a front for the mainly foreign-owned and also widely-reviled conglomerations that own the major record labels) showed up en masse under the guise of The musicFIRST Coalition, the group responsible for this push to get over-the-air radio stations to pay labels for the right to promote their artists for them.
The opening statements from the committee members made it clear that...[t]errestrial radio will soon be paying a performance royalty every time a song airs. Committee chairman Howard Berman (D-CA) indicated that he would be leading the charge for the royalty. Berman chairs the House Intellectual Property subcommittee and opened the proceedings with, "I've wanted to hold this hearing for a very long time, not only because of my constituents but because as a policy matter it is time for Congress to re-evaluate the limitations of the current performance right for sound recordings."
Witness Sam "Soul Man" Moore brought up the topic of older artists who are struggling to make ends meet in their old age. Mr. Moore and others suggested that the radio stations who promoted these artist's records are to blame, and not perhaps the record labels who paid them pennies on the dollar (if that) for their hit records.
when it comes to their own money."
Referencing the same misplaced blame, Paul Hodes of New Hampshire told of his experience meeting an African American artist who'd had a successful radio hit but who had been paid for his troubles only "$50 and a bottle of Scotch." To Mr. Hodes blame for the result of this exploitation by a record label and poor judgment (and/or desperation) of the recording artist was the fault of radio. Huh? What?Read the piece in it's entirety on The Tripwire (free registration required), or go to Intellectual Property Watch or FMBQ for more.
One of the few reasonable opinions given to dispel that myth came from Florida Republican Ric Keller who did his homework by calling a Program Director of a station in his district in Orlando. The PD told him that labels call him daily begging him to play their songs. Another came from San Jose representative Zoe Lofgren who set herself apart from the rest of the committee by not repeating a single RIAA talking point.
In the sky is not falling department, Mr. Berman included caveats regarding imposing this fee: "One is that by extending this right it does not diminish the rights and revenues of the creators of musical works and second, that terrestrial broadcasters, large and small, remain a viable source of music." The latter caveat might suggest that Mr. Berman disapproves of the crippling Copyright Royalty Board rate hike imposed on internet radio.
The only radio representative amongst the five witnesses was Radio Board Second Vice Chair Chester Warfield Jr. of ICBC Broadcast Holdings. Warfield held his own throughout sticking to the National Association of Broadcasters message that the system ain't broke, why fix it.
Labels: riaa sucks