The music industry this week introduced a bill before Congress to get terrestrial radio stations to pay performers a fee for the songs they play, much like Webcasters, satellite radio providers and cable companies are obligated to do.
The industry claims this is a loophole in U.S. copyright law, one that they’ve long been trying to close. But with all of the trouble terrestrial radio’s been having lately retaining listeners, this measure really just seems like an attempt to squeeze some additional revenue out of a dying medium. The National Association of Broadcasters agrees, calling the measure a “performance tax.”
The Wrap: [T]he National Assn. of Broadcasters…[argues] that the music industry is just trying to use the issue to recover from the disastrous impact of the iPod, which has encouraged music sharing and online downloading and sent sales of CDs plummeting. And, note broadcasters, they already pay $500 million a year to compensate the songwriters and music publishers who write the music.
“With the iPod, music fans no longer have to shell out 20 bucks for an album that only has one good song,” said Kristopher Jones of the National Assn. of Broadcasters. “It’s 99 cents. Apparently, the record labels have decided that bankrupting their number one promotional vehicle – free radio airplay – is a better business strategy than adapting to technology.”
Indeed, the industry, as the RIAA concedes, is becoming more digital, with revenues from online sales and streams making up a greater source of money for labels. It would likely be more effective for the industry to direct its energy towards figuring out how to appropriately compensate musicians for online streams and downloads and realise that so few people are listening to over-the-air radio, it’s not worth trying to change a long-established practice.