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.
Today, (Oct 15, 2009), the Senate Judiciary Committee passed their version of the Performance Rights Act of 2009 in voice vote. This is an important step in ensuring that performers and sound copyright owners (usually the labels) are compensated when their music is played (or "performed") on over-the-air radio. read more
Patrick Leahy says that the performance royalty he and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) are pushing will have minimal affect on most radio operators in the US. In fact, over 75% will be capped at a maximum $5K blanket license as long as they stay under revenue benchmarks. And non-profits will be capped at $1K.
…We suspect that groups like AFTRA, the American Federation of Musicians, the Future of Music Coalition, musicFirst and other such organizations will eagerly endorse this clause. But RIAA?s support will no doubt disappear faster than an Eddie Van Halen guitar lick