Posts Tagged ‘LRFA’

Roundup: The Performance Rights Act

June 16, 2010

The Performance Rights Act (PRA) has been a frequent topic here on the Radio 2020 blog ever since its inception, and with good reason. The legislation as it stands could have massive negative repercussions for the radio industry at all levels. Among other things, the new royalty structure will almost certainly result in the labels revisiting their contracts with artists if it passes — not something many have considered. This is only one of many ramifications that will rear their ugly heads if the PRA gets passed.

Let’s take a quick trip in a time machine and revisit my prior postings on the subject. For the benefit of our readers, here is a nice array of data on the subject. These posts range from October 2009 to the present and are presented oldest to newest in this list.

The Performance Rights Act is a very serious issue and it could still go one way or the other, so please educate yourself on the subject. Make an informed decision and let your Representative know your views!

Image: D. Reichardt / CC 2.0

Local Radio Freedom Act vs. Performance Rights Act

March 1, 2010

As the RIAA continues to push for the Performance Rights Act (PRA) as a way to bolster their failing business model, another act has been gaining steam in Congress: The Local Radio Freedom Act (LRFA).

As Reg Wydevan, a partner at Appleton-based law firm of McCarty Law LLP, notes in his column for the Appleton Post-Crescent, we’ve danced this dance before:

This is not the first time a performance tax has been considered. In both 1971 and 1976, a performance tax bill was introduced in Congress and refused, citing the important promotional value of free radio airplay. In 1995, a similar measure was shot down to avoid jeopardizing what Congress called “the mutually beneficial economic relationship between the recording and traditional broadcasting industries.”

So, once more we see this dead horse beaten by a music industry that is running scared due to the impact of file sharing and the transition of music purchasing on the Internet. The arguments have about as much weight now as they did back in ’71, especially when you consider that less than half of the money collected “for the artists” is designated to go to said artists.

As Radio Business Report tells us, more and more opposition is becoming evident at the Congressional level as well as within the ranks of artists:

The total number of US Representatives who are now signed onto the Local Radio Freedom Act, and who stand in opposition to the Performance Rights Act, has reached 256 with the addition of a quartet of Democrats. Meanwhile, Country group Lady Antebellum has joined the chorus of musicians who recognize the value of radio airplay.

The four latest co-sponsors are Reps. Travis Childers (D-MI), Mike McMahon (D-NY), Bill Owens (D-NY), and Mark Schauer (D-MI). While these four are all Democrats, it is well worth noting that the support for the LRFA is truly bi-partisan, composed Congress members from both sides of the aisle. While this is wonderful news, it needs to be noted that the LRFA is a non-binding resolution. This means that even with the majority support it has attained, it does not actually block the PRA.

That said, I’ve got to support the view espoused by Radio Business Report in an article about the National Black Church Initiative’s opposition to the PRA:

We don’t know if a floor vote is the best tactic or not, but we do know that the popularity of PRA in the House begins and seemingly ends in the Judiciary Committee. 256 House members have signed on to the Local Radio Freedom Act, which opposes PRA. That’s 38 more votes than necessary to stop the bill. And it’s not a Democrat v. Republican thing – LRFA has strong support within both parties.

So while things look pretty positive, we all still need to be vigilant. Contact your Representatives and encourage your friends to do the same. Encourage those in power to support the Local Radio Freedom Act and take a stand against the Performance Rights Act. It’s not a matter of supporting “corporate radio” as the PRA’s backers frame it, but rather of supporting radio in general.

The stations most in danger from this misguided legislation are the minority-owned and collegiate stations, the independents and small chains of stations.  Yes, it will hurt the big conglomerates as well, but they will not face the danger of extinction that stations with lesser resources will. Get involved and help save radio!

Image: mkeefe / CC BY 2.0

Local Radio Freeedom Act: You’ve Got Mail!

October 23, 2009

Lincoln-portrait-2007-sized_1Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) were the recipients of a letter recently. It was handcrafted by Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and John Barrasso (R-WY), co-sponsors of the Senate version of the Local Radio Freedom Act (LRFA).

The LRFA is a response to the Performance Rights Act (PRA) currently working its way across Capitol Hill. Where the PRA wishes to impose additional royalty fees upon broadcasters, the LRFA seeks to keep them from being enacted.

John Lyon at Arkansas News provides an excerpt from the letter, in italics below:

“We believe that artists and their labels are currently more than fairly compensated by local radio stations in the form of free and unparalleled promotion. Free radio reaches over 235 million potential music consumers each week,” the letter said.

“These listeners hear a song on the radio and then go on to purchase CDs and music downloads, buy concert tickets and purchase other merchandise that goes directly to the artists and their labels.”

Radio’s unparalleled reach has launched the careers of almost every musical name of note, taking small local or regional acts and putting them before larger and larger audiences. In addition, the labels themselves would be keeping more than half of the collected fees rather than the artists.

Lincoln and Barrasso argued that in the current economic climate, new fees would be devastating to radio stations. More than 265 stations have gone off the air in just over a year, and more would go out of business or switch to all-talk formats if the Performance Rights Act were to become law, they said.

I’d like to point out the additional danger, one that is quite tangible to most musicians. Many stations, unwilling or unable to pay additional royalties, will only play the “safe” or established tunes, the ones “with a track record.” We could miss the next generation’s Elvis because no one wants to take the risk.

“Further, should this fee be imposed on free radio, it is only a matter of time before other businesses such as restaurants, bars, taxi cabs and hotels are forced to pay for their use of music,” Lincoln and Barrasso wrote.

Think about your average week. Think about how often radio intersects your day, directly or in an ambient fashion. Now imagine that content gone. Gone, or switched entirely to talk. Cab rides become more boring, construction sites merely ring with the sound of hammers, road trips with the same few CDs over and over again. Think about it.

Radio Business Report chimed in on one aspect of this that regular readers know is important to me on a personal level, possible consequences during disasters:

Among the ill effects would be damaging the ability of broadcasters to respond to the challenge in times of emergency – especially when wires are knocked down or otherwise disabled and over-the-air broadcasting becomes the only way to get critical emergency information to the masses.

If we suffer a rash of radio closures because of the PRA, that would leave places like my home town of New Orleans in a bad spot come hurricane season (or its equivalent). I know what it’s like to rely on a radio for info in a disaster zone. Trust me, this one aspect is vital.

Noting the widespread support in the Senate, they concluded, “This legislation clearly evokes strong opposition that transcends party affiliation. As leaders of our two parties, we ask that you oppose any effort to move this bill, either as a stand alone measure or as part of a broader legislative package.”

A sentiment I echo, especially the last part. Unpopular bills often get passed by tacking them on to legislation that is considered “vital.” I hope that Lincoln and Boasso maintain vigilance against this sort of politicking and prevent it.

Image: Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Official Senate Photo / Public Domain: Govt.