Royalty battle still brewing


Musicians in Detroit say they are entitled to royalties from radio stations. But another musician would be thankful if she could just get the royalties and other funds she says her recording company is holding away from her.

The plaintiff aggrieved of the recording industry is Cher, who wants $5M from UMG for failing to live up to contracts requiring royalties payments to her and the estate of Sonny Bono. Her complaint, filed in London, runs to 22 pages. She also said UMG improperly deducted almost $330K for TV ads and hit her up for a 6% service charge when reporting income from a 1999 greatest hits release. UMG says that Cher’s claims are without merit, and will fight it out in court.

Meanwhile, John Conyers (D-MI) held a forum in Detroit in which musicians and radio execs faced off over the idea of performance royalties for airplay, the topic of Conyers’ recent Performance Rights Act, which passed the Judiciary Committee but seems to be stalling on the floor (see related article above).

The artists in Detroit included Dionne Warwick, Duke Fakir, Martha Reeves, and Mary Wilson; representatives from Radio One, Clear Channel, Greater Media and CBS Radio were present but were not invited to be on the panel – radio’s side in the argument was taken up by Al Sharpton, according to the Detroit News. DN said Radio One’s Cathy Hughes had been invited to join the panel, but felt it was a little late since Conyers had already pushed the bill through his committee.

RBR/TVBR observation: Cher joins a long list of artists who have major financial problems with the record companies. In fact, artists who have major problems with the labels seem to outnumber those who do not. It is unbelievable that Conyers is ready to plunder radio without looking even once into the noxious artist/label relationship, not to mention making no attempt to quantify the promotional value radio airplay provides for both labels and artists. Nobody disputes that radio has generated a lot of hits for both artists and labels – so why, Mr. Conyers, aren’t the labels paying their artists?