NAACP criticizes Chaffetz internet radio royalty bill


Digital DownloadsJason Chaffetz (R-UT) has introduced legislation designed to even the playing field in the digital audio distribution business, but the NAACP is saying his bill would achieve that goal only by punishing musicians. It’s fired off an opposition to members of the House Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet.

Chaffetz’s bill is the Internet Radio Fairness Act. It has bipartisan support and has been introduced in both houses of Congress.

The NAACP’s interest in the matter is its belief that many of the penalized musicians are people like the old Motown stable of artists.

In fact, NAACP’s Hilary Shelton said the legislation would start a “race to the bottom” as far as compensating artists goes and would deprive them of “fair pay for their hard work.”

Shelton wrote, “Many of the performers who would be affected by this lower compensation rate are the now elderly singers and musicians from the Motown era who received little pay for their original work and are dependent on this modest performance royalty that would be eviscerated under IFRA.”

RBR-TVBR observation: The question musicians and their backers must ponder is this: It is just possible that by making it easier for internet music portals to exist, there will be more opportunities for consumers to listen to music and in turn pay musicians. It is quite possible that they can earn more money with more spins at a lower price per spin.

And going along with more spins is more of the promotional value that comes with each spin. Every extra consumer who listens to a song on the internet is an extra consumer that may decide to buy the music, and perhaps seek out tickets for a live performance by the artist and perhaps consider buying other related merchandise from the artist.

The flip side is that the royalty rates make internet audio services uncompetitive, prevents them from earning a living and drives them out of business. In that scenario, income will be restricted.

We don’t know where the tipping point is, but it is something that is worthy of careful consideration.