If you are paying attention to the Performance Rights Act (PRA) as it winds through Congress, you are aware of the argument that free airplay is not of sufficient value to artists, hence the desire for more royalties. I can talk all I want about how silly I find that argument, but it looks like the court system in Texas is about to address that for me.
There is a rap artist in Houston called Trae tha Truth, and he is currently launching a lawsuit against RadioOne because they have banned his music. The rationale is that by doing so, they are hurting his career. The Houston Chronicle‘s blog has particulars:
Trae (whose real name is Frasier Thompson III) and attorney Warren Fitzgerald, Jr. allege that 97.9 FM banned the rapper’s music after he was involved in an on-air altercation with Madd Hatta Morning Show DJ Nnete Inyangumia. During a 2009 radio interview, Trae says Inyangumia falsely accused him of inciting violence at a festival celebrating “Trae Day.” The rapper, whose real name is Frasier Thompson III, was honored July 24, 2008 by Mayor Bill White and the Houston City Council for his community work.
I’m not here to comment on the right or wrong of the situation. What I find noteworthy is the approach being taken. This is a lawsuit based on loss of business and weakening of brand caused by a lack of free airplay, airplay that musicFIRST and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) consistently devalue in their lobbying for the Performance Rights Act. That sounds suspiciously to me as thought the free airplay might just have value, that it might just be essential to the artist.
Don’t take my word for it, though. Let’s hear from Trae’s record label itself. If the airplay has no value they should be quite unruffled by the situation:
Rap-A-Lot Records’ CEO James Prince weighed in on the ban, saying that it also affected his business decisions with regards to Trae’s music. “I had been excited about being involved with the next Trae album,” says Prince, “but with this ban taking place, not only in his home town, but likely also in the second best place for airplay, which is Dallas, it would be impossible to promote the album. This ban is sabotaging his career, because those cities are the foundation for breaking his records.”
Wow. “Impossible to promote the album.” Strong words, especially from a record company exec. Could it be that airplay does have some intrinsic worth? “Sabotaging his career,” sounds to me like a bit of an impact.
I’m very curious to see if any of the pro-PRA groups out there will make any comment on this, or if we will simply hear silence and crickets.
Tags: airplay, hip-hop, houston, James Prince, lawsuit, litigation, MusicFIRST, Performance Rights Act, PRA, RadioOne, Rap-A-Lot Records, rapper, Recording Industry Association of America, RIAA, texas, Trae tha Truth, TX