Saturday, March 15, 2008

Performance? What Performance?

Here’s my response to the most recent Houston Chronicle Editorial which advocates Congress to pass the Performer’s Rights Bill. This bill if passed, would require all AM/FM stations to pay for artists "performances" when their music is played over the airwaves. My question has always been: What "performance"? A performance is the act of playing and/or singing before an audience for pay. What radio stations play is a recording of a prior studio performance for free.
This is a "quid-pro-quo" arrangement with the artist, the artists’ label and others, to enable the artist to then make financial gain from song sales, concerts and other such "performances".
If this capricious bill is passed, it seems that radio stations will have no choice but to charge their own "fees" to the artist or artist label for the air time used to play their "performance". At the very least, radio should charge a "booking fee" for scheduling these "performances" on the
air. It also seems fair to me, that a radio station could purchase the song from whatever source-thus owning the song -(and the artist receiving a royalty)to play on the station owned by that company. Why would a station have to pay twice? The Chronicle’s editorial mentions that these
"performances" are used to attract audiences to attract more commercial advertisements. Not entirely true. There are many factors used to attract an audience and ratings. Music may be the largest segment for music stations, but not the only ones. How about contests? Personalities?
A good news department? A stations power and dial position? Promotional budget? What percentage would apply to music "performances" in attracting a station’s audience? 60%? 70%?
A radio station would pay 100% value to a performer, while only receiving 60-70% return on invested dollars. Meanwhile, a station’s overhead for all other segments remain constant. Does an author plugging his/her book on Larry King get a "royalty" for appearing and getting a free
plug? Does a heart surgeon get residuals from a patient for repairing his/her heart for each day the patient lives? (Would the surgeon or the hospital pay it if this were true?) Does an architect who designs a bridge or building get residuals from each person who crosses the bridge or enters the building? These people have "talent" too! Musical artists must feel special in some way to demand to be paid for free exposure of their work on a radio station's air waves. Artists and’s time to
rethink this unnecessary money grab for pre-recorded"performances". That’s my RadiOpinion.....what’s yours?

Gary Allyn