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It’s Time to Reduce Radio’s Music Rights Fees

From FMQB:

musicFIRST Coalition Takes Aim At Radio Performance Rights A new coalition has been announced which will aim for fairness in compensation from radio for performance royalties. The musicFIRST coalition is a partnership between musicians and industry organizations which aims to ensure that all performers, “from aspiring and local artists, to background singers and well-known stars,” are properly compensated. Some of the artists involved in the coalition include Christina Aguilera, Jimmy Buffett, Celine Dion, Don Henley, Wyclef Jean, John Legend and Jennifer Lopez, as well as 11 industry organizations. A press conference is scheduled for [today] with more details.

The music industry has a lot more nerve than it has guts.

It takes nerve to bite the hands that feed you and feed you well.

But it takes guts to solve your own problems in creative ways that increase the size of everybody’s pie without pissing off customers and partners and artists alike.

No guts here.

As I have long argued, it is inevitable that the music biz would come knocking on radio’s door for a bigger piece of their pie – because in an age when its consumers would rather steal than buy, the only thing a suffering industry can do is hold out their palm to the legitimate industries which license their content and can’t hide in the P2P jungles of the Internet.

And, for one, that means radio.

Now I’m not saying we shouldn’t necessarily pay more for the privilege of creating immensely profitable hits for an industry which couldn’t possibly create them without us. Maybe we should pay more for that service.

Then again, this is an age when a hit is more important than ever but even scarcer than it used to be. And when something is both more important and more scarce its value goes up. That makes radio’s promotion MORE valuable to the labels now, not less. And that, my friends, means our industry may be paying too much.

So goodie, goodie, let’s have a conversation about radio’s promotional value to the music industry. Because maybe it’s time for us to pay less!

And let’s do it with artists like Christina Aguilera and Jennifer Lopez that owe their very musical existence to radio. I don’t remember those artists crying “foul” when we were playing their songs every two hours, thus making them familiar and popular and sending consumers to the stores in droves – when the stores carried what consumers wished to buy, that is.

Ah, how times change.

True, there are zillions of ways to promote music today – lots of ways for labels to reach consumers which didn’t exist only a few years ago. But these pathways generally don’t create hits, they create everything but hits. This is why the proverbial “long tail” is so long.

You see, labels thrive on “hits,” not “tails,” and radio is America’s hitmaker of choice.

Just when you think the music industry has run out of dumb ideas you find new dumb ideas nestled inside old ones, and they all swirl around this fundamental concept: If folks don’t want to pay for what we sell, let’s charge more for it.

If Jennifer Lopez et. al. really want to lend a helping hand to starving baby bands, perhaps they should consider a cash donation.

Because over at radio, all we want to do is get some good tunes from you, music industry, pay you fairly for them, and make them popular enough for an audience to buy them and make you rich.

Is that okay with you?

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