CRS Keynote: Radio Paying For Playing?

Now that I am fully recovered and rested from Country Radio Seminar, I can get caught up on the blog and the rest of my life. 

The keynote address at CRS was actually turned into a panel after the cancellation of Sean Hannity a few days before.  The hot topic?  Sound performance rights for music on terrestrial radio.  It was a high octane discussion fueled by radio consultant Joel Raab.  Unfortunately, I don’t think it went far enough into the matter and like most panel discussions, ended without any ideas toward resolution.

David Ross writes about the keynote in Music Row:

Moderator/radio consultant Joel Raab framed the session with a brief synopsis of the opposing points of view. Labels and artists want terrestrial radio to pay a sound copyright fee, something which is recognized in all but four other countries worldwide. Radio’s stance is that they expose the product and therefore already perform a service for the artists and labels, so the use is a fair exchange. Panelists included Mike Kraski of Tenacity Management, John Simpson of SoundExchange, Tom Taylor from and NAB Exec. VP John David. “Radio revenues are flat,” said Taylor, “but labels are in true pain. My hunch is that this year nothing happens, but this issue won’t go away.” “I wish everyone fun at the label parties,” said David, immediately adopting an argumentative stance while intimating the labels still have lavish party budgets. “We are not impressed with the $1.25 million small station proposed exemption, either. Our intention is that the money is not going to come.”

Simpson pointed out that these artist royalties are collected overseas, but in most cases not sent to the U.S. because this country does not have a reciprocal right. SoundExchange collects performance rights in sound recordings for digital transmissions, satellite radio and cable radio. “Artists who had great records of songs they didn’t write get nothing when their music is played over and over for years,” Simpson remarked. “In some sad cases they are forced to work until they die to pay the bills.”

Kraski delivered the label point of view. “On our side it is a moral imperative,” he said. “If one side wins big while the other loses then we all fail. We need radio, and radio needs content. There has to be a middle ground.” Kraski also answered the exposure argument by saying at least 40% of radio airplay is Gold music which doesn’t need exposure and is just to the benefit of the station.

Audience questions quickly brought the emotional impact of this economic issue to a boil. Radio audience members cheered when David said, “Zero is the only acceptable number to pay.” Fortunately the crowd was small and moderator Raab wisely cut off the discussion with a fade to lunch.

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2 Responses to CRS Keynote: Radio Paying For Playing?

  1. Joel Raab says:

    You’re correct in that there was no resolution to the issue, but I’m glad we made the first step toward airing out the issue and industry execs at least putting their cards on the table. The panelists who agreed to appear were brave to tackle the issue at CRS. Appreciate the mention in your blog!


  2. Mike Severson says:

    I too am glad it is at least being discussed and debated. It’s a good start. We could certainly use more airing out of many issues facing the radio and music industries. Thanks Joel!


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