Dionne Warwick went to Huffington Post to support the Perfomance Rights Act and launch an attack aimed mainly at Cathy Hughes and Radio One, but also included a broadside aimed directly at the record labels. Check out this quote in defense of “struggling musicians”: “This legislation would make sure that these artists are directly compensated, not the recording executives who may have stolen from them much as Ms. Hughes and Radio One steals from them now.”
Warwick mentioned all sorts of financial details to try to paint Radio One as a thriving business, saying the company reaped $316M last year alone. She also brought up the $10M bonus paid to CEO and son of Hughes Alfred Liggins III. “Far from a struggling company, Radio One sounds more like one of those Wall Street rip off firms where executives pay themselves big bonuses while they rip us off and throw their workers in the street.”
“Every time we buy a CD or download a song, the artist is paid for their work,” wrote Warwick. “You might not know that this isn’t the case when a musician’s work is played on the radio. That’s because corporate radio CEOs like Cathy Hughes are exploiting a legal loophole that allows them to play these artists songs without paying them for their work.”
Warwick skips over the fact that many of the CDs sold and songs downloaded are a direct result of the airplay songs by artists such as herself received for free over the radio – you can argue that Radio One is benefitting by playing the song for free, but you can also argue that it is granting Warwick a free three-minute commercial for her song that leads directly to sales.
RBR/TVBR observation: Uh, sorry Ms. Warwick, but the record executives you mentioned so disdainfully have made sure that they are first in line for their PRA payday, with not-so-struggling headliner artists coming next, while relegating the most struggling of the artists way back in the rear with a mere 5% of the proceeds to split amongst themselves.
Memo to Cathy Hughes: Please note that the dispute here is not between radio and artists. It is between radio and the recording conglomerates. The recording companies are doing everything they can to hide behind artists, only a relative handful of whom can expect to be meaningfully compensated if PRA becomes law. Every time a radio executive attacks an artist, for any reason, the radio exec is playing right into RIAA’s hands.
The simple fact is that radio has always helped musicians to prosper, not only by helping them to sell recorded music, but also by selling live performance tickets and paraphernalia. The industry getting between artists and fair compensation is the recording industry, not radio, as Warwick flat out admitted in her article.
Congress should be examining the artist/recording company relationship before undoing the symbiotic relationship between the radio and music that has allowed both industries to prosper for decades.