TV could be the next prey for PRA


RBR-TVBR First: Will Hoyt of the Television Music License Committee has some interesting ideas on the negotiations taking place over a possible legislative deal making a radio performance royalty a reality, along with ideas on music licensing in general. One question: If audio-only radio gets hit with a royalty, will audio/visual venues be next?

He says he’s been assured that the current target is radio and strictly radio, but looking down the road, Hoyt said, “I am concerned that if the legislation passes the way they’re talking about it, that same model could be applied to the audio/visual model.”

He said he could easily see the next target being any venue programming primarily music videos, be it a broadcast HD side channel, a cable channel or whatever. Eventually, any of the music on A/V that currently pays a composer royalty could conceivably wind up being pressed on a performance royalty too.

Hoyt went a good bit further than that when discussing the music licensing system in general. He thinks it should move away from the use of collective organizations such as BMI, ASCAP, SESAC and SoundExchange, and move more toward a free market system, and argues that technology makes this possible in ways it never was before.

Under Hoyt’s proposal, it would be mandated that all venues playing copyrighted music report their playing, but he believes such a system could be easily automated.

All of this data would go to a central database, where artists and composers would be able to see how much use their material is getting, and where.

Those eligible for compensation would have to register to collect, and they would be able to do so through an agent – an agent that might very well be BMI, or ASCAP, or SESAC, or SoundExchange. Hoyt believes the transparency of the system would benefit the music creators, who he thinks can get short-changed in the current murky system.

He also believes that any PRA-type legislation should focus on making sure creators, not labels, are first in line for compensation.

Hoyt has no illusions about getting a music reporting mandate enacted into law, however. “I’m kind of a rebel in this area,” he acknowledged.

Hoyt echoes Ron Gertz of Music Reports, (
who insists that both performers and labels have an opt out option so that they can negotiate with outlets as they see fit – and that the outlets have a mechanism to get the appropriate discount from any blanket fees they may be paying one of the collectives. He said if radio airplay is indeed as valuable as radio says it is, then creators will be happy to waive their copyright entitlement to get it.

Hoyt was confused by one element in the current negotiations. “I have no idea why chips in cell phones should be traded for royalty payments,” he said. He sees no relationship whatsoever between one and the other.