Music First Coalition Seeks Radio Airplay Royalties

June 15, 2007

Washington - Jun 13, 2007 - A group of recording artists and organizations have banded together to seek royalties for their music when it is played on the radio. According to the group's website, "Corporate radio has had a free pass for too long." The group wants commercial radio stations to pay the performers for playing their music on the air. Quoting the group's website again, "Big radio [refuses] to pay even a fraction of a penny to the performers that brought it to life."

The coalition is comprised of more than 100 artists and 10 music and recording interest groups including the RIAA, Soundexchange, the American Federation of Musicians and the Christian Music Trade Association. While group seeks compensation for radio airplay, the group's site does not specify exactly what it seeks.

Recording artists have sought radio airplay royalties for many years, but radio broadcasters have been able to avoid paying the royalties on the grounds that radio airplay and music sales are linked. Broadcasters cite that it is because of exposure from radio airplay that artists can sell records.

Music royalties have become a major issue in recent years. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act brought many of the previous loopholes to light. The NAB has already begun its campaign against the coalition's efforts, and if its zeal in this case matches what the NAB has done in the satellite radio debate, there will be a great deal of attention on this issue.

The NAB's rebuttal to the coalition's announcement singles out John Legend, a member of the coalition, who also participated in a terrestrial radio promotional campaign in 2005 where the artist thanked radio for its contribution to boosting the performer's career.

It's true that terrestrial radio has been able to avoid the royalty fees for music airplay, and few will deny that musicians should be compensated for their work. The coalition artists deny that radio airplay helps them in any way, but this is not true. Perhaps a mutually agreeable royalty payment is in order, keeping the airplay benefit in mind. Unfortunately, the Internet streaming royalty situation has already shown that determining a mutually agreeable rate is a difficult task.

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