It is no secret that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is on the warpath against radio, the medium that has driven more sales for them than any other. After over eight decades of radio promoting music for free, the RIAA is seeking to enhance their diminishing bottom line by creating a new revenue stream in a way that will injure radio, particularly minority and niche stations.
In my time, I have been a radio DJ and an independent music promoter in one of the most musical cities on the planet: New Orleans, Louisiana. I have had the pleasure of working with high profile artists like James Brown and Herbie Hancock as well as up and coming groups like Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes. One common thread in my interactions with all of these artists has been that airplay is massively important to them. Without the distribution channel provided by radio, audiences would have a vanishingly small chance of running across their work, much less becoming “true fans” who consistently purchase their music.
HR 848, The Performance Rights Tax, has potential to cause palpable harm to stations, particularly the smaller and independent ones. The disturbing thing is that a solid 50% of the revenue generated will go directly to the labels as opposed to the musicians the RIAA purports to serve. Facts like this are understandably glossed over in the RIAA’s quest to have this tax enacted.
In the interest of providing the facts of the matter, our colleagues at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) have launched NoPerformanceTax.org, a website devoted to providing information and resources about this struggle. Resources include video of the Congressional testimony of Steven Newberry and Larry Patrick before the U.S. House of Representatives; great public-service audio spots against the tax; ads and link buttons you can put on web sites or in printed publications.
If HR 848 gets passed, we will see a major curtailing of radio offerings across the board. The tax is being vigorously opposed by religious and minority groups, including the National Association of Black-Owned Broadcasters and the Spanish Broadcasting Association. This tax would likely force many small market stations to close, reducing local content and weakening the emergency broadcast system. That last one fills me with dread; as a survivor of Hurricane Katrina, I have a very personal view of radio’s essential nature during time of disaster. It’s a view that is shared by many people across the country who have suffered floods, tornados, wildfires, or the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
Go check out NoPerformanceTax.org and join the battle to keep the airwaves vibrant and alive. Oppose the tax on local radio — the next generation of talent will thank you!
Tags: HR 848, HR848, Larry Patrick, NAB, National Association of Black-Owned Broadcasters, Performance Tax, radio, resources, RIAA, royalties, S 379, Spanish Broadcasting Association, tax, The Performance Rights Act