Start Making Sense


The RIAA hassles David Byrne for streaming too many Missy Elliot songs on his Internet radio show, providing a helpful reminder of just how insane the law is in this area. Comments Byrne:

In my case the law forbids streaming "radio" that features more than 4 tracks by any one artist in a three-hour period….Is there a higher licensing fee I could pay to allow me to do this? (I currently pay a statutory fee to stream this stuff.) Is there a reason a radio station can play Springsteen 'round the clock but I can't stream Missy Elliot? Answer: You CAN pay for this, Dave. However, you would have to license every song separately, and pay for each one too, instead of as a lump sum, as you do now.

For example, KCRW can feature a single artist in their broadcasts, but can't post those shows online. Terrestrial (broadcast) radio pays publishing fees, but not performance royalties—a holdover from radio being viewed as a promotional tool. Streaming radio is not? Huh?

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  1. I’m still trying to get my head around Byrne and the Misdemeanor in the same post.

    BTW, Walker, I now must admit slight, grudging respect for that punk K. Chesney, he listed a good Dwight song on his itunes celebrity playlist.

    Did you get a chance to watch a tape of the CBS Cash tribute? (I almost offed myself upon hearing brad paisley sing “I shot a man in Reno…”)

  2. Did you get a chance to watch a tape of the CBS Cash tribute?

    No, I forgot to set my VCR. Were there any performances I should kick myself for missing?

  3. This is yet another problem that would cease to exist once we do away with copyright.

  4. Byrne is wrong in one respect in his posting. This provision of the DMCA was clearly aimed at protecting the bloated mediocrity that is ClearChannel and Infinity Broadcasting, rather than protecting the record companies. Since the FCC already functions as a protection racket for Big Radio, why not the LOC, as well?

  5. Hell, Warren, why not just do away with recording artists?

    Good article on the tangled copyright web here:

  6. I had a heck of a time getting my radio station on the air because of the four song restriction. I mix my bands with real, professional bands on my show. It was hard to stay within the four song limit.

    Still, I am glad they let me make the station. It is linked in my sig if anyone is curious. The registration is quick and free for just basic listening. Check it out!

  7. But further to my previous:

    In my case the 4 song limit was being applied against songs I wrote and recorded using my own (and nice various bandmates) time and money, limiting my songs on a radio station that I pay to have online. I felt slightly hosed. Its not like I was trying to play 5 or 6 missy elliot — just 5 or 6 of *my* unassigned songs.

  8. Kid Rock & Jerry Lee Lewis did Walk the Line. I was mixed.
    Dwight: If I were a Carpenter with Allison Krauss. Good, But there are few country/pop women with the pipes to sing with Dwight, plus I was wishing he would sing a recent cover (2004) of Understand your Man, which is excellent.
    Martina McBride did I still miss someone. good, a bit delicate.
    Foo Fighters: Sunday Morning Coming down with Kristofferson. Very good.

    There were notable misses, like Crow singing ring of fire. Man, she really can’t sing.

  9. Anyone interested in the legalities of webcasting should read JWZ’s “Webcasting Legally”. First paragraph: “Today’s word is “labyrinthine.” Keep it in mind.” Basically, the entire thing is one giant extortion scheme.

  10. The Foo Fighters doing “Sunday Morning Coming Down”? Now that I have to hear…

  11. I’m still trying to get my head around Byrne and the Misdemeanor in the same post.

    Me too. But then I read Byrne’s description of Missy:

    She is one of my role models.

    Not afraid of anything. Not afraid of wearing a ridiculous balloon costume in a music video. Not afraid of her own or Timbaland’s radical beats. Not afraid of singing backwards (“Work It”). Not afraid of not being model skinny.

    Rumor has it that she works 3 instant message accounts simultaneously – one for friends, one for business, and one for porn.


  12. Kid Rock & Jerry Lee Lewis did Walk the Line. I was mixed.

    Wow. That sounds awful.

  13. Without spending the time tracking down the actual law, how does the law define an “artist”. I mean, is David Johansen considered a different artist from Buster Poindexter?

  14. IM porn? OK…

  15. The comenter above is right, those rules were designed to save Clear Channel not the record industry. With the proliferation of wi-fi and smaller and smaller internet devices, we could be entering a golden age of internet radio. Thank about it, millions of people started blogs, how many would have started internet radio stations? Who doesn’t want to blast their musical tastes to the world and what music lover hasn’t dreamed of taking over a radio station and finally playing some decent music? Five or six years ago, I really beleived that the internet was going to put an end to the local radio station, with its fixed format and “radio personalities” that are come off the assembly line at some corporate radio factory. This law killed those dreams and its a shame. The radio and music industries and the listening public are much worse off for it.

    BTW, the Cash tribute was okay. U2 doing the Wanderer was good, Foo Fighters were okay, they should have let Dwight just do a couple of songs sans Allison Krause and yes Sheryl Crow really can’t sing.

  16. That’s what he gets for playing Missy Elliot instead of Al Green.

    Current law is all about lobbies. Radio was an established industry able to protect itself from paying performance royalties on the newly minted *recording* copyright, whereas writers (the sheet-music industry) were dominant before radio and able to make the nascent technology pay on the long-existent *song* copyright.

    RIAA uses every new technology to scare Congress into protecting them against it. Started with cassette tapes; they wanted a blank tape royalty and the machines changed to honor copy protection; they got the latter for noncommercial DAT’s. With digital being the technology of the Net, they were able to cry wolf again and get paid for the sound recording copyright.

    The four-song rule made my community radio station stop streaming. Seems like an attempt to make it more difficult to capture the whole album on someone.

    I got a call from an artist this morning wanting relief against 5 parties bootlegging his CD on the Net. I’m sympathetic. But with the majors feeding us so much crap and using payola to get kids to buy it, while often glorifying thuggery to boot, my heart bleeds for ’em….

  17. “Who doesn’t want to blast their musical tastes to the world and what music lover hasn’t dreamed of taking over a radio station and finally playing some decent music?”

    Sounds a bit megalomaniacal to me. Or perhaps just narcissistic? I’ve got news for you, John: there are thousands if not millions of internet “radio stations” doing just that, and most of the material they are playing is, yes, still crap.

  18. Ed,

    I thought the copyright laws prevented you from broadcasting without paying royalties? Am I wrong about that? If I am right, they are only playing unsigned bands, who are ussually unsigned for a reason. I don’t think you could really just start playing anything you wanted on the internet without getting sued.

  19. Who needs a Cash tribute? CMT ran “Live From San Quentin” over Thanksgiving weekend. It was so god damned cool on so many levels. The music was just part of it’s greatness. The interviews with the inmates and the guards made it a fascinating time capsule. Yesterday?s inmates might not be as pumped up, but they were ten times creepier.

    That being said, I thought Jerry Lee Lewis closing out the Cash tribute show was pretty cool. Norah Jones was good too.

  20. Ralphus,

    Too bad I missed that. Supposedly Merle Hagard was at one of those when he was doing time for knocking off a liquer store I think. Merle is one of the few country singers who actually did do some serious time in prison.

  21. Well, there’s Haggard, David Allan Coe, Johnny Paycheck, Steve Earle…anyone else?

  22. Merle was a real hard man. Even though the rest of the outlaw crowd were outlaws in name only they still had something that the country posers today can’t touch. Hard lives. Unless you’ve picked cotton, lost a realtive to black lung or had intament knowledge of the penal system you just can’t sing country right.

  23. I forgot about David Allen Coe, who did a whole record about it. Paycheck kind of half counts because he went to jail after he got famous and then was on the serious downside. Steve Earle counts I guess, although he is not totally country and like paycheck went to jail after he was already famous. I count Haggard and Coe as special cases because they got famous after they had been in prison and therefore really knew what they were talking about when they sang of hard times.

  24. Ray Stevens?


    Here’s a topic.

    Classic country singers – the gangsta rappers of their day?


  25. My favorite life of any country singer is Kris Kristofferson. Rhoades Scholar, helicopter pilot in Vietnam, probably would have been General Kristofferson had he stayed in. Walked away from everything, including his wife to be a country singer. That takes balls.

  26. Didn’t Paycheck go to jail both before and after he was famous? He got in a fight with an officer when he was in the Navy, almost killed the guy, spent a couple years in the brig.

  27. That I didn’t know. I can tell you that Navy Brigs have a terrible rep. Army prisons are country clubs, but Navy prisons suck. That is what the Army criminals I sent to jail told me anyway. I can’t imagine what they must of been back in the 1950s. If Paycheck spent a couple of years in a Navy Brig, he is a hard man.

  28. [puts on tinfoil helmet]It’s much more sinister than you realise. They are forcing you, FORCING you to buy their CD’s so that you will be forced to agree to EULA’s with their backdoor rootkits, so that Big Brother will get to look at your hard drive whenever he wants. And then they come and arrest you for illicit porn. You people need to wake up.[takes off helmet]

    Ok, just had to see what that felt like. Pretty good actually, I like the way it crinkles over my ears.

  29. Unless you’ve picked cotton, lost a realtive to black lung or had intament knowledge of the penal system you just can’t sing country right.

    Does it help if you can’t spell either? You’ll have a good chance at winning the next Grammy, if so.

    Anyway, in my short time in the Navy I gathered that Navy brigs suck mainly because the guards are usually Marines, and probably not those fun-loving, easy going Marines we’ve all heard about. For whatever reason, there is a bit of a tradition of animosity between Marines and sailors. I never had any trouble with Marines myself, then again I haven’t had much trouble with big scary dogs either — I think keeping a respectful distance is probably the best approach to dealing with either of those types of beings.

  30. “RIAA Bans Telling Friends About Songs”

  31. You got me Douglas. Try not to get a nosebleed up there on your pedestal big guy.

    But since you mentioned it – a lack of formal education probably belongs on the list.

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