A Creative Deconstruction of The Performance Rights Act

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Creative Deconstruction was started in 2009  by Refe Tuma. In their own words, it “is designed to keep the conversation going and help artists, bands and those willing to embrace new ideas seek innovative solutions to the problems and opportunities that face their industries.” Radio Business Report calls them “Forward Thinking Musicians.”

These forward thinking musicians have presented a simple and elegant five point list denoting “Why The Performance Rights Act is a Bad Idea.” The aforementioned Mr. Tuma authored the list. I highly advise reading this post and adding your own comments. He touches on a number of aspects that make little to no sense once you have the facts, but the one that I particularly like is his concise comments on the fundamentally mistaken underpinnings of the act itself:

According to a recent press release by the musicFIRST Coalition – a lobby group created to push for the PRA  – Radio should pay performance royalties because it is the only platform that currently does not. They accuse brodcasters of believing that “AM and FM music radio stations should continue to get special treatment, that AM and FM music radio stations do not have to play by the rules, and that AM and FM music radio stations should enjoy a competitive advantage over other music platforms.”

The problem is that they are ignoring the fact that they were the ones who created this disparity. When the other platforms such as online streaming were required to pay performance royalties it had everything to do with controlling the reproduction of digital music – a problem not shared by terrestrial radio. As Jesse Walker points out, the industry’s argument “hinged on the idea that digital broadcasting is different from conventional broadcasting. Forteen years later, as it attempts to impose a performance fee on AM and FM broadcasters as well, the industry now wants to claim the channels are equivalent after all.”

I had never seen the website for this group before, but a bit of looking around does tend to support the view of Creative Deconstruction as people on the leading edge. For instance, one of their most recent posts is about the use of Creative Commons licenses with music, something I’ve often speculated about in prior posts.  Their content denotes a cutting edge mentality combined with an awareness of how the radio business and distribution models are evolving.

The fact they we agree wholeheartedly on this legislative issue is a bonus. Thanks for the great post, Refe!

Creative Deconstruction logo utilized under “fair use” for this article

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2 Responses to “A Creative Deconstruction of The Performance Rights Act”

  1. refe Says:

    And thanks for the write up!

    My agenda is to support and inform artists and independently minded music professionals, and some have suggested that my views on the PRA are not compatible with that. I disagree – supporting the PRA and supporting artists is not the same thing.

    The PRA was written to benefit the RIAA and its stakeholders, not the artists. In fact, the collateral damage the bill could cause would likely hurt artists and independent entities (like local radio) that genuinely do have an interest in supporting them.

    There are probably aspects of the broadcaster/right’s holder relationship that could be improved or even reformed. The PRA is simply not the bill to accomplish that.

    I’ll have to go back and take a look at what you’ve written regarding Creative Commons – I’d be interested to hear what you have to say. Feel free to add your two cents to the discussion going on at the original article as well!

    Thanks again for the kind words.

  2. George Williams Says:

    I’ll try to drop you some direct links to the stuff about CC.

    Yours is one of the most deliberative and intelligent analysis of the situation I’ve seen. The radio medium should not suffer for the failing business model of the lables. I think turning the tables and starting our own “labels” would be a great approach, especially if it could be solidly grounded in the current trends nad technology rather than being being based on 17th century sheet music laws.

    Great to hear from you, hope you’ll chime in periodically on our conversations here!

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