Watchdog backs performance royalty


Paul Porter, co-founder of content watchdog Industry Ears, took to the virtual pages of to back the Performance Royalty Act. He took opponents, particularly radio group Radio One, to task for opposing. Porter said that the quality of radio in general and Black radio in particular was going down, and that royalties for musicians would improve the overall quality of the music.

He noted that minority ownership of only 7% of broadcast licenses was far too little, but added that “the few surviving  Black-owned radio stations are abusing their unique influence in the community to misinform listeners about the impact of a new Congressional bill designed to support the kind of independent, creative and positive  musical artists we all have demanding.”

Porter indicted Black radio and cable’s BET for homogenizing/coarsening Black programming. “First, by allowing a “pay for play” list of hip-hop that distorts or alters the mind set of the next generation with a steady diet of misogyny, violence and drug culture. We all sat back and watched while BET and Black radio simply mirrored the local news at eleven, reinforcing stereotypes and replacing lyricists with the lyrically challenged.”

RBR/TVBR observation: One of Porter’s key complaints is that musicians with a toxic message are all that seem to be played on Black radio, and suggests that somehow a performance royalty would change that. All it would do is make sure the artists he considers toxic, and their labels, make even more money, as radio further tightens its playlist to make sure it’s not paying to make listeners change stations. The artists he thinks would benefit would in fact be boxed out even more thoroughly than they are now.

Porter mentions nothing whatsoever about the fact that much of the money generated if PRA is enacted would go to labels, and head overseas. He makes no mention of the value of airplay to labels, or the labels’ obligation to fairly compensate artists. He cites “pay for play,” but fails to note the irony of labels willingly paying for airplay even while arguing that they should get paid for allowing that very same airplay. We don’t think that Mr. Porter has a firm grasp of this issue.

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