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.
Having had time to digest a 100+ page report on digital copyright policy, we can report back that this “green paper” covers a range of issues around copyright and technology with an understanding of the complexities for creators. The report is a product of the Department of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force (IPTF) with input from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). We wouldn’t say that the green paper is a good beach read — and not just because it’s after Labor Day — but it does lay out very clearly the challenges and opportunities of the digital marketplace.
Of course, we’re mostly concerned about how these issues impact musicians and composers. This is why we’re also delighted to announce that one of the contributors to this report, Shira Perlmutter, Chief Policy Officer and Director of International Affairs at USPTO, is going to give a keynote at the Future of Music Summit (Oct. 28-29, Georgetown University, Washington, DC). Don’t miss the chance to hear from the horse’s mouth about how executive branch agencies are dealing with the issues that impact YOUR livelihood — registration is open now (with a limited number of musician scholarships available)!
[this post by Communications Associate Kevin Erickson and Communications Intern Oliva Brown]
There were several surprises in store at the November 27, 2012 House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet hearing “Music Licensing Part One: Legislation in the 112th Congress.” The first surprise was that the main bill under question — the Internet Radio Fairness Act, introduced by Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) — had been renamed. IRFA, which argues that royalty rates for webcasters should be calculated using the same standard that is currently applied to satellite radio, was now rechristened “Internet Radio Freedom Act.” While slapping the word “freedom” on anything and everything is a longstanding Washington tradition, it also had the unfortunate side-effect of underscoring a key criticism of IRFA: that the bill would almost certainly result in a steep cut to artist payouts from services such as Pandora, something many artists see as anything but fair.
But the biggest surprise was that the topic du jour turned out to be another longstanding point of contention in the broadcasting realm: the lack of a terrestrial radio performance right in the United States. Meaning, good-old fashioned radio still does not compensate performers and sound copyright owners even though digital broadcasters do. (So does the rest of the industrialized world; for more information, check out our Public Performance Right fact sheet.)
“Who the [heck] is this guy and why is he trying to sell me a warm sack of [poo]?”
This question lit up my mind last week, as I sat in the audience for the Future of Music Coalition Policy [sic] Summit in Washington, DC. The guy in question was, in fact, a US Senator — Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) — while said warm-sack-of-[poo] was the Internet Radio Fairness Act (IRFA), which Sen. Wyden is sponsoring in the Senate. read more
[…]This disconnect between old media companies and new is hilariously illustrated by comments that one of the bill’s sponsors, Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, made recently at the Future of Music Coalition Summit. After some harsh words for the major labels, Wyden said the following, as quoted by Digital Music News: “Now, if it weren’t for the disruptive independent record labels — I’m talking about people like I.R.S. and Sub Pop and Tim/Kerr — we might never have known much about bands like R.E.M., and Nirvana and the Replacements … I sure want us to remember their enduring influence on not just rock music, but on their contributions to our culture and an entire generation.” read more
Attention, recording artists and sound recording copyrights owners! Did you know that there may be unclaimed royalties in your name floating around out there on the interwebs? Did you know that a friendly, non-profit organization exists solely for the purpose of helping you find them? That’s right. They’re called SoundExchange, and they want nothing more than to give you money. 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