New Bill is So Artist Friendly, It’s Scary

It’s the end of the year.I won my bet with my lawyer: the music business did not implode.(see “Do I Owe My Lawyer Lunch”)

CD sales were down but not so much that it won’t balance out from digital downloads, ring tones sales are through the roof, and if that isn’t enough, now the Federal Government is entertaining legislation that will effectively put over $100,000,000 NEW dollars into the music biz economy EACH YEAR!!!

So, the next person who tells me the music biz is faltering is going to get black roses from yours truly.Shut up already and deal with the FACT that you’re a pessimistic drama queen.

Here’s the skinny: As you read this Congress’s is reviewing the new Performance Rights Act.

From the A2IM website: “Under existing law, satellite and Internet radio already pay royalties to recording artists and rights holders when their music is broadcast. However, the new Act, introduced into both houses of Congress, adds terrestrial radio to the list of paying broadcasters.”

That means that regular “analog” radio will start paying record companies (and thus artists) for playing songs.Up till now in the US only songwriters received performance royalties from radio and TV air play. Authors of the sound recording (meaning artist, producers and labels) got goose egg.

But the party is over for broadcasters who have gotten away with this gross injustice for over half a centaury.

What has made this imbalance seriously cruel is the fact that US artists, when played on European radio, still received no royalties even though Europe and Canada pay their local artists for the same type of play. This dynamic has influenced many US artists to sign with foreign divisions of major labels and thus robed the US economy of indigenous talent.


SoundExhange (“SX”) naturally. A former branch of the RIAA and still connected to them in many serious intellectual ways, SX will be collecting all of these new royalties and taking an (unregulated) percentage for collection and distribution of the new money. Some economists have estimated the amount to be in hundreds of millions per year.This will mean SX may quickly become every bit as powerful as ASCAP and BMI, both of whom also operate in the same “non-profit-ish” manor as SX.

So, lets not kid ourselves.The big brother agenda is still in play.Sure, if this Bill passes (with all its proposed amendments) record companies will be able to get paid (instead of paying radio stations payola) but does this mean artists will get to see this new money? Maybe.That will still be a fight waged between labels and artist’s managers.

The good news is that now artists and their representation will have a far bigger pool of cash to fight for, which means they may be able to achieve something that, in the past, was available only to the biggest stars— top attorneys and auditors to work on contingency. This new legislation could afford them better representation and thus force labels to be more cautious about short-changing their talent.

But the battle is far from over.This Bill needs support.The letter below, which I received from John Simson Executive Director of Sound Exchange explains it well.


As I’m sure you’ve heard, yesterday was a very important day for U.S. recording artists and labels. Performance rights legislation was introduced in both the House and the Senate. It is really important that music industry professionals reach out to the co-sponsors and thank them for taking this stand. We know how powerful the broadcasters are and the Congressional representatives who stood up yesterday need to hear from their constituents. Please tell everyone you know to get engaged, to send an e-mail or make a phone call, especially if they have a relationship with these representatives.

On the House side, the sponsors are Berman (CA), Issa (CA), Conyers (MI), Blackburn (TN), Harman (CA) and Shadegg (AZ). On the Senate side, its Leahy (VT), Feinstein (CA), Corker (TN) and Hatch (UT).

Please call if you have any questions about the legislation. Thanks.

John L. Simson

Executive Director, SoundExchange>>>>

Get off your ass and do something for your community. Write a letter Y’awl.

Mo Out

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