Big name musicians petition for PRA


A group of musical talents took the occasion of the Grammy Awards to remind Congress that they would like to see the Performance Rights Act voted into law. Recording Academy President Neil Portnow said it was about nurturing the unknown and up-and-coming musicians yet to make their mark on the public.

The artists signing the petition, identified in a musicFIRST release, include “Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Tre Cool, Mike Dirnt and Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, Stephen Stills, Kenny Aronoff, Sheryl Crow, Anthony Kiedis, Chad Smith and Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Phil Soussan, Jackson Browne, Don Was, Dave Matthews, Josh Groban, Travis Barker, Andrea Bocelli,, Taboo, and Fergie of Black Eyed Peas, Drake, Mary J. Blige, Mick Fleetwood, Stevie Nicks and David Foster.”

“In speaking to these talented artists, I heard three constant refrains,” said Recording Academy VP Daryl Friedman said, “First, their concerns for background singers and musicians and older legacy artists who need to be fairly compensated; second, their willingness to sit down with radio to work out a solution; and third, if radio still refuses to talk, their commitment to take the fight to Washington.”

Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow said during the Grammy Awards telecast, “This evening, you’ve seen performances by the most successful artists today. And you know about their generosity and giving back,” Portnow said. “But standing right behind them are thousands of unknown and up-and-coming music makers who face the question of survival every day. In the coming decade, unless they can make a living at their craft, the quality and creativity of the music will be at risk.”

RBR-TVBR observation: Yeah, right! It’s all about the unknown musicians – that’s why the record companies hog 50% of PRA proceeds and the headliners get 45%. The vast pool of the unknown, where the majority of musicians find themselves, get to split the last 5%, if the recording industry can be trusted to track them down and actually pay them.

Do the math – If a famous singer uses 10 background musicians and singers, and earns a dollar off PRA, the record company gets 50 cents, the famous musician gets 45 cents and the others each get one half of a cent. All you hear about from the recording companies is their great concern for these unknown faceless musicians – until it comes time to write them a check, when the musicians find out exactly how unknown and faceless the recording industry thinks they are.

Ironically, if PRA is enacted, it will make it even harder for the up-and-coming to break through. Stations, paying to play each and every song, will not want to spend money on an experiment from some unknown – they’re going to stick with the tried and true.

PRA will simply chase new talent to new platforms on the internet. It will be just one more item on the long list of self-inflicted wounds the recording industry is compiling.