PRA should preserve right to negotiate individual licensing deals


Under current law, copyright owners (i.e., music publishers) under the ASCAP/BMI regime and record labels entitled to royalties from satellite or internet distributors can negotiate their own deals with radio stations or music sites – perhaps offering free or discount licensing in exchange for the promotional value of having their music played on the venue. Ron Gertz, a copyright lawyer who runs Music Reports, a company dealing with various aspects of music licensing, says preservation of that right should also be enshrined in any legislation growing out of PRA negotiations.

The other end of the bargain is that stations which are party to such agreements must be able to benefit from a pro rata reduction in the amount of money they pay to royalty collector SoundExchange for performance royalties when they make deals directly with record labels or independent artists. This will avoid double-payment, and in turn by eliminating a potential disincentive for stations to negotiate with artists, will preserve the right of up and coming independent labels and musicians to control their own destiny by marketing and promoting themselves how they see fit.

Gertz told RBR-TVBR, “The point is to make sure that whatever settlement the negotiations result in, that creators of music have the ability to go to radio broadcasters and work out their own deals to promote their own brands. That means they can negotiate their own rates. At the same time, radio should be able to reduce its payment to SoundExchange accordingly.”

He emphasized that it’s a matter of fairness for radio stations, and it may be a matter of survival to smaller record labels and for musicians trying to get into the public eye.

“It’s all about enabling the people that are creating the music that people are interested in. They have the right to do that now by statute, and it would be a shame to see the radio industry give up that valuable right.”