In the battle over performance royalties for airplay, the music industry trotted out musicians to carry the water. But will the musicians end up with the cash? The NAB thinks Congress should try to find out before it crafts any legislation. NAB President/CEO David Rehr fired off a letter to Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property Chair Howard Berman (D-CA) and Ranking Member Howard Coble (R-NC) requesting a hearing.
"A hearing that includes the Recording Industry Association of America and the four major record labels would allow members of the Subcommittee to explore more thoroughly the typical business practices of the recording industry and the dynamics of the relationships between the performers and the record labels," wrote Rehr. "If the goal is to improve the circumstances of performers and build the cadre of music into the future, the relationship between performers and record labels also bears examination."
Points in need of exploration include the specifics of label/performer contracts; historical details of label vs. performer share of income from recording sales; minimum, average and maximum dollar amounts per CD sale received by labels and performers; artist retirement benefits; percentages of rights ownership among labels and performers; percentage of performers who find themselves in debt to labels; and whether labels seek a cut of money generated from live performances.
RBR observation: This addresses the big question about the latest airplay royalty grad, which many believe is simply part of an all-points thrust to make up for money lost as the recording industry adjusts to new internet realities. Will cash taken from broadcasters benefit artists or multinational conglomerates?