Is the Armey mounting a sneak attack?


We always thought former legislator Dick Armey (R-TX back in the day) was opposed to unnecessary taxation. But he’s expected to testify before Congress that a performance royalty, or a performance tax, as the NAB calls it, should become the law of the land, forcing broadcasters to pay performers/labels to air recorded music. It turns out that Armey’s lobbying outfit, DLA Piper, is getting paid by RIAA to adopt this position. According to the Associated Press, Armey actually wrote an OpEd piece in the Washington Times supporting the royalty, but neglected to mention his relationship with the trade organization of the big recording conglomerates.

RBR/TVBR observation: Isn’t it obvious? Every time a song is broadcast, it is essentially a free advertisement for the artist and the music. The relationship between broadcasters and labels is one of the greatest mutually-beneficial barter arrangements in history. For years and years and even more years, the labels haven’t make a peep on the topic. Then they hit a rough financial patch and suddenly it’s an issue.

If the labels are going to insist that each song spin is a performance, then broadcasters will have to be equally insistent that each spin is in fact a commercial. So instead of being a music-formatted radio or DTV side channel, a typical station will be reconceived as a home shopping channel that plays music of a certain type – for a price. If the labels want airplay, they can pay the going rate up front.

Unfortunately, we believe the labels will be responsible for paying the musicians their royalties under this arrangement, since they are the ones causing the song to go on the air. And even though this issue is presented as being all about the musicians, somehow we don’t think the labels will be too keen on that arrangement.