Bloggers mystified by PRA passage


A pair of writers working at online publications are amazed that the two congressional judiciary committees placed themselves so snugly in the pocket of the RIAA. One of them noted that the history of airplay revolves around payola, and wonders how the reverse payola sanctified by PRA came about.

Techdirt wrote, “It’s quite obvious to anyone who actually understands radio economics that this makes no sense. After all, the history of radio has always been about payola — having the labels pay the radio stations to play certain works. That’s because the record labels know quite well that airtime leads to more money in terms of promoting an artist and building a business model around music, concert and merchandise sales. To the labels, airplay has always been the equivalent of advertising. That’s why they pay for it. But now they want the radio stations to pay them to advertise the labels’ music? Isn’t that getting the equation backwards?”

At p2pnet, they observed that RIAA had to serve but four masters, the large recording conglomerates, “producing statistics, ‘certifying’ attaboy awards for contracted performers who’ve made lots of money for the labels, arranging soirées so politicians can mix with, and be influenced by, vested interests. And so on.”

The writers note that if PRA becomes law, stations will be abandoning music formats in droves, and those that remain are not going to risk playing anything but surefire hits.

In other words, smaller, up-and-coming acts need not apply for airplay – they believe that vast majority of musicians will be shut out if PRA becomes law.

RBR-TVBR observation: Don’t politicians ever spend a minute pondering unintended consequences?  John Cornyn (R-TX) actually did a good job of laying many of them out for easy examination during the 10/15/09 markup session – but his arguments were ignored. Let’s hope they carry more weight on the Senate floor.

We believe the vast majority of musicians currently enjoying airplay will not benefit from PRA – it’s written to benefit the already rich. And by keeping unknowns off the air, it will make it harder for them to break through. The only guaranteed payday is for the labels – but it will likely be short-lived as they destroy the very promotional machine that helped them prosper all these years.