24B reasons for broadcast performance royalties


The musicFirst Coalition has seized on the closing of the transaction taking Clear Channel private to trumpet its raison d’etre – establishment of performance royalties for broadcast music. It says that without music, there would be no Clear Channel, yet the deal structure sends $24B dollars to corporate ownership and not a penny to musicians.

musicFirst Executive Director Doyle Bartlett said, "Without music, this deal would be impossible. Without music, Clear Channel’s radio empire would just be castles in the sand. Yet corporate radio refuses to discuss a fair performance right for America’s artists and musicians. Recently the head of the National Association of Broadcasters said, ‘I would rather cut my throat than negotiate on this.’ For corporate radio negotiating $24 billion deals is ok, but talking to America’s artists and musicians about a fair performance right on radio is just too scary. The Clear Channel deal makes abundantly clear the case for legislation to create a fair performance right on radio."

RBR/TVBR observation: This is such a flawed and simplistic argument. Isn’t it a little bit like saying without cars, Exxon and Shell wouldn’t be raking in record profits right now, so a chunk of that cash should go the GM and Ford? But let’s make a couple of points. Let’s skip over the fact that the Clear Channel price has already shrunk from what it was, and that many people think the new investors just paid too much anyway. The factor missing from this equation is how much the recording industry pulls in thanks to hour upon hour of free promotion provided by radio stations. And if a broadcast royalty is put into effect, how much cash will just go to other corporations, and how much will actually make it to musicians? We would like to see detailed scrutiny of the relationship between musicians and labels – until that is done, all the evidence truly is not before the legislators who are taking a close look at this issue.