A little over a week ago, the Future of Music Coalition sent you an email announcing a new campaign to end a sneaky move by Clear Channel to not pay indie artists’ royalties. We are pleased to announce Clear Channel has capitulated – in just 10 days.
Here’s the background: As part of a settlement to end an FCC investigation into allegations of payola at some of their stations, Clear Channel and other broadcasters agreed to play 4,200 hours of local and indie music. Clear Channel set up a web page attached to each of its stations’ web sites that allowed local and indie artists to submit their music for consideration, but the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) found some troubling language in the license agreement: artists had to check a licensing agreement that said that the artist granted "Clear Channel the royalty-free non-exclusive right and license, in perpetuity […] to use, copy, modify, adapt, translate, publicly perform, digitally perform […]" the content submitted via their website.
Clear Channel was asking artists to waive their performance royalties as a consideration for airplay. In other words, Clear Channel had responded to allegations of payola with a pay-for-play scheme aimed at indie artists.
This was an unconscionable action. As we shift from a physical to a digital music marketplace — especially one in which fans will increasingly pay for access to music via subscription services — performance royalties will become a more significant portion of artists’ revenue. It is critical that precedents are not established that require artists to relinquish royalties as a condition of airplay.
Last Monday, July 9, FMC launched a week’s worth of daily blog posts devoted to the topic, while A2IM continued direct negotiations on behalf of its independent label members with Clear Channel. Then, Congress got involved. On Thursday, July 12, Senator Russ Feingold, D-Wis., sent a letter to each of the major radio station groups, questioning their intent to honor the conditions of the payola consent decree. Feingold referenced the Clear Channel royalty issue in the letter, saying that the "required royalty waiver seems to violate the April commitment not to barter access to music programmers. I encourage you all, and Clear Channel in particular, to clarify this issue."
If you remember, we also promised you a surprise at the end of the week. On Friday, July 13, we filed a Request for a Declaratory Ruling at the FCC over Clear Channel’s actions.
It was clear by the end of last week Clear Channel had had enough.
As of Monday, July 16, Clear Channel had revised the language in the licensing agreement (see example here). The new language removed the words "royalty-free" from the agreement, which ensures that artists can keep their rights to their public performance royalties. One of the nation’s smallest music non-profits beat back the nation’s most powerful broadcaster.
We want to thank the independent label group A2IM for all their hard work negotiating directly with Clear Channel on the revised language over the last two weeks. The victory is great for all musicians. It proves that we can take on the most powerful forces in the radio industry and win. It also shows a more equitable music business is possible if we band together to make a concerted effort.
You can continue this work by taking one or more of the following actions:
Thanks for your help.
June 22 Press Releasehttp://www.futureofmusic.org/news/PRclearchannelroyalties07.cfm
FMC’s Week of Blog Posts
FMC’s Request for a Declaratory Ruling filed at FCC
Press Release on FCC Filing
Musicians say Clear Channel cheats on pact
Brooks Boliek, Hollywood Reporter, June 22, 2007
Air Traffic Control
Todd Martens, Billboard, July 7, 2007
Sen. Feingold Questions Commitment To Ending PayolaFMBQ, July 11, 2007
Senator Presses for Pay for Play PactVariety, July 11, 2007
FMC Files Complaint over Clear Channel PracticesFMBQ, July 12, 2007
Since 2001, FMC has organized six annual Policy Summits to address the critical issues at the intersection of music, law, technology and policy. After a stellar event last October in Montreal, we’re bringing it back to Washington, DC for our 7th Annual Policy Summit, which will take place at George Washington University’s Betts Theatre from September 17-18.
The Summit is always programmed to react quickly to issues emerging from Congress, the courts, the Copyright Office, and from the international stage. Over the course of two days, we will focus on the critical issues that are affecting musicians and music communities as production, promotion and sales increasingly move to a global, digital platform such as:
We’ll also do some special sessions on:
Check out the developing program details here
Registration is Open, but Space is Limited
We’re using a smaller theater this year that only seats 325. Considering all our past Summits have had more than 550 attendees, this means you’ll need to act now to guarantee your space.
Early Bird Rates: these expire August 15, 2007
Regular Registration: $149 USD
Student Registration: $89 USD
Click here for secure online registration
See all the registration options and student rates here
Scholarships for Working Musicians
Every year, FMC offers scholarships to make sure that musicians are not left out of the music/technology debate. Thanks to some generous contributions from foundations, technology companies, sponsors, and musician advocacy groups, 80 musicians are able to attend this Policy Summit for free. Musicians: go here to apply.
More on the website
Praise for the Policy Summits
"…a kind of Geneva where all sides in any number of contentious music industry fights can get together and play nice for a few days. Even more importantly, it offers pinstriped Washingtonians a rare opportunity to hear musicians articulate their concerns in person instead of relying on competing lobbying groups that claim to espouse their interests." Washington Post, 2004
"…the coalition’s organizers are due a great deal of credit for representing a constituency that is often invoked by others but not represented."Washington Post, 2004
"As independent artists develop and discover shortcuts to get their music out in spite of an inequitable and often corrupt industry, conferences like the FMC’s go a long way toward providing them a map." Village Voice, 2005
"You know the time between when a record leaves the artist’s hands and before it gets to listener’s ears? The Summit covers everything that happens in between."Pitchfork, 2005
Please plan to join us us this year for another spectacular event!
"The Future of Music Coalition’s annual policy summits are where chain links meet cuff links as musicians and songwriters press the issues — and the flesh — with the political powerbrokers who help determine their future." Washington Post, 2004
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Russ Feingold (D-WI)
Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
Norm Coleman (R-MN)
Howard Berman (D-CA)
Rick Boucher (D-VA)
John Conyers (D-MI)
Louise Slaughter (D-NY)
Mike Doyle (D-PA)
Maestro Kent Nagano
Hank Shocklee, Public Enemy
Konrad Hilbers CEO, Napster
Rob Glaser CEO, RealNetworks
Michael Robertson, MP3.com
Gary Shapiro, CEO, Consumer Electronics Association
Lawrence Lessig, Stanford Law
Terry Fisher, Harvard Law
David Carson, US Copyright Office
Donate to the Future of Music Coalition!