Followers of our work over the past 15 years know that we’ve always taken a stand against against payola—the practice of well-heeled music companies giving cash or other enticements to big broadcasters in exchange for radio airplay. Technically, this practice is only illegal if it is not disclosed over the airwaves when the paid-for music is played. But over the years, the broadcasting conglomerates have found workarounds. Most recently, they established a system of so-called “independent promoters” who would funnel cash or other goodies to broadcasters without the major labels ever dirtying their hands. (Our Payola Education Guide offers a great overview of this pernicious practice.) read more
Who gets paid, how much and under what terms when music is played on digital and AM/FM radio? Answering those questions isn’t easy, even for experts. But one thing is clear: 2014 has been a big year for the laws and policies that determine royalty rates for all forms of radio, and the intrigue will likely continue into 2015. read more
This week, Clear Channel Communications, the nation’s largest broadcaster, signed an unprecedented strategic partnership with major record label Warner Music Group. For the first time ever, Warner’s roster of performers will be compensated for plays on American terrestrial (AM/FM) radio. (Currently, only songwriters and publishers are paid for radio airplay; performers and record labels recieve nothing.)
Clear Channel chairman and chief execute Robert Pittman lauds the move as “redefine[ing] the relationship between music companies and radio.” But in reality, the deal—like those struck by Clear Channel and Fleetwood Mac , Big Machine Records, and Innovative Leisure—is frustratingly limited. For one, it will not allow for the collection of money owed to artists for international radio play. Because the US doesnt pay foreign performers and sound recording owners for radio play on our shores, American artists receive no money when their music is played abroad. Reciprocity in royalties would require an act of Congress, something that the major broadcasters have fought tooth and nail to avoid. Never mind that the rest of the developed world compensates performers (with notable exceptions including North Korea and Iran). If Pittman truly wants to “redefine relationships,” he should encourage compensating performers across the board so that America no longer gives away a valuable export free of charge on the world market.
On Monday, July 12, Future of Music Coalition submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission in its media ownership rules review. Although this proceeding takes into account the whole range of American media — newspapers, television, etc. — we focused on station ownership consolidation in the broadcast radio market, because that’s what impacts musicians and fans. read more
It was a great weekend for listening to FMC folks talk about our favorite subject: the intersection of music and policy.
On Saturday, FMC Policy Director Michael Bracy chatted with Windy City music scribes Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis on "Sound Opinions" — a weekly talk show from Chicago Public Radio and American Public Media. read more
One company that measures such stats says definitely.
While it may not seem like much of a surprise that web radio plays more artists than traditional broadcasters, new data supplied by streamSerf — a company that monitors and reports on music played on terrestrial and web radio — highlights a pretty big disparity. According to the company, last month American broadcast radio stations played 25,399 unique artists (this includes public radio stations) while Internet radio stations played 829,971 unique artists. We're no mathematicians, but apparently that's 32 times as much. read more
On Tuesday, July 9, FMC's Kristin Thomson -- author of "Same Old Song," FMC's latest report(s) on indie music on the airwaves -- gave an interview on the Mediageek Radioshow.On Tuesday,
Mediageek is a weekly half-hour syndicated public affairs radio program covering grassroots and independent media, hosted and produced by Paul Riismandel at WNUR 89.3 FM on the campus of Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. Mediageek can be heard throughout Chicago and the northern suburbs, and also on the web. read more
Nearly four years ago the four largest commercial radio owners promised to play more independent music as part of FCC consent decrees resulting from recent payola investigations. Future of Music Coalition has been tracking radio playlists to see if commercial stations have been keeping their promises. FMC?s Kristin Thomson joins the Mediageek Radioshow to discuss the situation.