Intellectual Property

John Conyers' Radio Tax

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Both ordinary radio stations and online radio stations pay a fee to songwriters. Since 2002, online stations have also been required to pay a fee to performers. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) saw that unequal system, which has crippled or killed many Internet outlets, and moved swiftly to…impose the performers' fee on AM and FM stations as well. His bill passed the House Judiciary Committee yesterday by a vote of 21 to 9.

Note: If a performer pays a station to play a record, he's engaging in the strictly regulated, frequently illegal practice of payola. Food for thought: If such fees were allowed to flow freely and if Conyers' bill were passed, which way do you think the majority of the money would move? Toward the radio stations, or away?

Bonus link: Just because it's a performance fee doesn't mean it will reach the performers.

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  1. Way to kill off marginallly profitable old media, JC. Good jorb.

  2. I don’t understand why Pandora hasn’t moved its servers offshore to escape the tax.

  3. Tax, fee, whatever. Fuck you, too.

  4. The US Congress
    Destroying Industries – Wholesale or Retail

    Call for a FREE Estimate.

  5. I blame Don Henley.

  6. I don’t understand why Pandora hasn’t moved its servers offshore to escape the tax.

    Because the DOJ would probably arrest the company officers if they ever stepped foot in this country, that’s why. Don’t you fucks understand that it’s not your money, it’s Uncle Sam’s?

  7. Both ordinary radio stations and online radio stations pay a fee to songwriters. Since 2002, online stations have also been required to pay a fee to performers.

    Not exactly, at least regarding online stations. There are countless noncommercial, private online “radio” stations that play the music of independent artists who have waived any public performance rights or payments. Permission is granted directly from the copyright holders before any song may be used.

  8. I blame Don Henley.

    No, everything bad in music begins with Yoko Ono.

  9. There are countless noncommercial, private online “radio” stations that play the music of independent artists who have waived any public performance rights or payments.

    There’s also countless radio stations based out of the country that don’t have to put with the US laws. Yay for making our online services less competitive on the world stage.

  10. “No, everything bad in music begins with Yoko Ono.”

    I think you meant to say jingle writer Paul “Look at me! Look at me!” McCarthy.

  11. Way to kill off marginallly profitable old media, JC. Good jorb.

    And the NAB let him get away with that? He must have some real good blackmailin’ stuff on them.

    The sooner they can kill off radio in its current form, the happier I’ll be. You’ll need a lot of stakes, tho.

    Yo, fuck the NAB.

  12. Was the performer’s fee bill named after Manfred Mann, Three Dog Night, or Dr. Hook? If Bruce Springsteen has any self-respect at all, he’d endorse and forward all checks for “Blinded By the Light” to Manfred Mann.

  13. And the NAB let him get away with that?

    The NAB opposed the measure. But — to put it in crude and oversimplified terms — when Democrats outnumber Republicans, the RIAA will beat the NAB.

  14. And the NAB let him get away with that? He must have some real good blackmailin’ stuff on them.

    In addition to what Mr. Walker just said, the NAB has been putting ads against this in pretty heavy rotation on terrestial radio stations.

  15. A performer’s royalty makes a certain sense, once a physical artifact containing a recording ceases to be the primary commercial product of the music business. When record sales were key, radio spins were “free* advertising.” Those spins don’t do such a great job of pushing sides anymore, while they still attract some ears for advertisers. Given the way OTA stations’ playlists have atrophied, isn’t it now the case that a record has to have sales or hype before a station adds it, other than for the biggest acts? Do broadcasters ever break a hit anymore?

    Radio play, whether over-the-air, via satellite or webstreamed, still seems to do some good in drumming up concert ticket sales.

    If the FCC allows infomercials, why not legalize play-for-play, as long as a station is honest about it?

    Kevin

    * payola-fueled spins excepted

  16. But — to put it in crude and oversimplified terms — when Democrats outnumber Republicans, the RIAA will beat the NAB.

    Makes sense; I hadn’t thought of that angle.

    But that’s a whole lotta lobbyists from which to paint the streets red with their blood. Good start on the process, though.

  17. If the FCC allows infomercials, why not legalize play-for-play, as long as a station is honest about it?

    It’s for the children.

  18. This is not about killing off radio. This is about putting radio in a position where it, too, needs a bailout, and the resulting federal control of operations. Government-owned media, here we come!

  19. Some of the US Internet radio organizations hailed the decision, because if the tax is stupid, they at least want parity with the terrestrial tower broadcasters.

  20. This is not about killing off radio.

    Of course not. Radio’s been dead for years.

  21. Kevrob, I would love to see the business plan of current “alternative” rock stations; I just can’t figure out what’s going on. (Hip Hop station’s playlists make way more sense–they don’t really break music but at least their stuff is up to date).

    In LA, I’m forced to listen to KROQ–under duress–and am totally mystified. 99% of their playlist can be carbon dated to 1997…we’re talking old Greenday, old Offspring, old Smashmouth. Then around 11 am, two “new” songs from Greenday or the Offspring will be played. Then its back to old Blink 182.

    Is there really a demand for this stuff by either advertisers or the public? Why aren’t the record companies bagering KROQ to push new stuff?

    The only conclusion I can come up with is that its cheaper or less labor-intensive to play old stuff…

  22. John Conyers –

    Rather than fiddling with this stuff do your constituents a real favor. Take your batshit crazy wife to Washington with you. Please!

  23. Being a former musician I think that it would open up radio to stop playing the same song every 5 minutes. I think Sirius and XM will play a major role as they will get alot of new clients. I also think that its about time. I remember trying to get my bands songs on the radio and couldnt because I didnt have 10k to sit down with the DJ. This is ridiculas. I think radio should be open to all if you have good music to be played not just the ones who have money to grease the palms of DJ’s. I really can’t believe that they thought this would last with this erra of digital recordings and OTHER options. Things always change and I think its good for everyone.

  24. These so-called taxes are what are known as royalties. They are but one means that the industry has of recouping its investment and the writers and performers have of being paid for their work. To this day, I still receive royalty payments for recordings I made as a session musician in the 70s and 80s. Are you suggesting that Congress abolish royalties altogether and deny performaers and writers of their livliehood? LW, nobody said anything about “gresing the palms” of the DJs. That’s what’s known as payola and it has been illegal since the 1950s unless it is disclosed at the time the recording is played as being “sponsored airtime.” Conyers’ bill merely levels the playing field. Why should the over-the-air segment of the broadcast industry catch a break due to a loophole? Sorry, but this bill will NOT break the bank!

  25. T play-for-pay IS legal so long as the station announces that it is sponsored airtime. No skullduggery here.

  26. The commercials against the performance tax are on 15 min rotation on 107.9 in Cleveland and that station plays the same five songs all day. Im suspcious of these commercials-didn’t thik they were legit

  27. What ever happened to BMI and ASCAP? Radio stations (among others) pay fees to both of these and they distribute the royalties, or at least that’s how it used to work.

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