PRA battle starting to get ugly


The organization musicFIRST, which carries forward the record label’s campaign in support of the Performance Rights Act, is now using a pig to describe the radio industry. It has kicked off a new website called, which is little more than a picture of a pig with a radio dial and a call to sign a petition.

The ad implies that the radio industry is getting a government bailout, which is of course nonsense. Not only is radio being left to its own devices to pilot its way through the current recession, recent pleas from minority broadcasters for stimulus loans (not handouts) have fallen on deaf government ears.

RBR-TVBR observation: We’d be careful about throwing the word pig around. The ugly fact about PRA is that it not only refuses to acknowledge radio’s role in promoting music, it takes money from radio and divvies it up between the haves of the music world, leaving the rank and file musicians to divide up the crumbs.

We’ll do the math for you again. A radio station plays a song – basically a three minute commercial for the song, its label and its performer – and the label and headliner not only want the air time for free, they want cash on top of the promotional benefit they are getting.

Once they have the cash, here’s what they do. Let’s say the song has a headline singer, three background singers, a piano player, a guitar player, a bass player, three horn players and a drummer. For every dollar radio pays, the label, which “performs” nothing, gets 50 cents. The headliner gets 45 cents.

Meanwhile, the three background singers, the piano player, the guitar player, the bass player, the three horn players and the drummer will split a nickel, so that in the end each will rake in the astonishing sum of one half of a cent.

When the recording industry talks about the justice of its cause, it almost always wraps itself around the poor starving musicians struggling to make a living. But here we see exactly what the industry thinks of them – they are great for a PR campaign, but not so important when it comes time to divide up the booty.

Pigs, indeed.