House Judiciary Committee Passes Modified Performance Tax


voteDetroit: 200 protesters joined local radio hosts Mildred Gaddis and Reggie Reg carrying signs saying things such as “Save Black Radio” and “Vote NO on HB 848,” circling the entrance of the federal building in Detroit beneath U.S. Rep. John Conyers’ window.

The View Inside D.C.: The House Judiciary Committee passes the controversial Performance Rights Act 21 – 9.

Now HB 848 moves on to the floor of the House of Representatives for a full vote while a similar measure is working its way through the Senate. On the bright side, a voice vote was taken adding “manager’s amendment” by Chairman John Conyers, D-Detroit that does have some ameliorating effect on the bill. Its a nasty pill to swallow, but if it does go all the way it is good to see some much needed adjustments being made. Some of the positive changes being made, as reported by Deb Price at The Detroit News, include the following:

  • A sliding fee scale for small broadcasters.
  • A delay on the start date for payments.
  • Talk radio stations playing only snippets of songs are exempt
  • Broadcasts of religious services are exempt.

It is my hope that this bill will not gain traction in the House. Even with some of the adjustments made, HB 848 will be an onerous weight upon the radio industry.

Since this issue particularly threatens niche markets, it’s no surprise that it is seen as a war on minority radio. Justifiably worried about their future viablity, as Spanish Radio already is, black owned radio stations and programmers are making their voices heard through actions like the protest in Detroit. According to Deb Price at The Detroit News, the City Council still doesn’t see how this bill will cost jobs in their city:

The Detroit City Council also weighed in, discussing a resolution Tuesday that supports the arguments made by black radio stations. The resolution, introduced by Kwame Kenyatta and JoAnn Watson, failed and was referred to an entertainment committee.

“Many of our artists haven’t gotten their due, but it should be the record companies, not the stations, who should pay,” said Watson, who has hosted the “Hello Detroit” radio show for more than 20 years. “(Small) black-owned stations will go out of business. They will close the stations down, I’m telling you.”

The extensive online efforts of our sponsors over at the NAB (, and the opinions of iconic artists such as George Strait, are some good things to start with if you are late to the issue. This is only the initial hurdle, if we can make people aware of the facts they will get involved. Get active now before the full House votes.

Even watered down, the Performance Tax is a deal that will hurt everyone involved — with the only exception being the record labels.

Photo  courtesy of tifotter, used under its Creative Commons license


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8 Responses to “House Judiciary Committee Passes Modified Performance Tax”

  1. suehawks Says:

    Just a thought, could this be the death of the pop star? What if Indy labels partnered with locally owned radio stations and struck a deal/merged so that independent label artists get airplay and require no tax payment?

    • Steve OKeefe Says:

      Sue, that is very clever. Radio stations could sign artists instead of recording companies. That’s a fascinating idea and a model that might work in a CD-free world. Thanks for contributing.

      Writer, Radio 2020

  2. Charles Werner Says:


    If this really comes to pass I fear what will follow. There are many people who’s only form of entertainment is Music on the radio as we know today. They are the underprivilaged poor folkes who can’t pay for cable, satilite dishes, internet and the like. Can we let this happen to them? Are we going to close Public Libraries or charge people to borrow books so the writer/publisher can be paid for works done in past decades in history?
    Music play on the air not only entices and perswades potential music buyers to invest in their favorite artist (SELLS MUSIC), it also soothes the savige beast in all of us who listen to the radio during rush hours. Can you imagine the the potenital rise in road rage because all we can listen to is opining BS talk shows?
    This is a bad idea that needs to be shot down with as much amunition we can muster. Freedom is at stake here.
    I also beleive this will do more harm to the Music Industry than help. It’s like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

    I pray to God this does not happen

  3. crystal aye Says:

    I feel this is terrible for all minority people who get a lot of their positive information from the radio on a daily bases. I know a lot of people at my church who enjoy listen to the radio on a daily bases for one reason or another. Without the radio those people would truly be lost. The people I am thinking of read the paper some days but listen to the radio daily. Those people will loose a lot of their personal connection with the world if they could not listen to their favorite radio stations. I feel very strongly about the bill being done away with for good.

  4. margo smith Says:

    I listen to the radio everyday for at least 4 hours per day sometimes more than that. I do not want anythings to change that. The foreign countries and other owners do not need to make money off of the radio station by charging them money for playing certain CD’s that is truly crazy. It is already diffcult for minorities to get ahead in this world. This is another way of attempting to keeping the minority people down. I have lived a long time and I have seen alot of things happen in this world this is just not right.

  5. margo smith Says:

    I pray this Bill is not passed.

  6. Eric Says:

    The democrats have gone insane!

  7. Arlene Skovira Says:

    God Bless us all. This just cannot get passed.

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