Sunday, June 28, 2009

Radio: Performance royalty lax

Mr. Smyth, Mr. Jacobs.

We are the anti-Performance Royalty Fee police.

Please stand up. Hands where we can see them. We are not going to ask you again.

Now, back away from those computers.

Do what we say and maybe radio won’t get stuck paying that performance royalty fee.

We don’t need another web site.

We don’t need another slogan.

We don’t need another contest.

And we certainly don’t need another hero – and if we did it wouldn’t be you.

If the Coot read his own research he’d know that consumers have grown weary of run-of-the-mill heroes.

The way your attempt to battle-position radio and the labels is like India vs. Pakistan. And you’re Pakistan. That’s why, as the song goes, your way will not survive.

Radio permitted this to happen. Where were the NAB and Peter Smyth and the Coot when the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was sailed through Congress without opposition?

Can you blame the RIAA and the labels? If it was that easy to bluff radio the first time, of course you’re going do it again and again and again.

Look over the archives of the daily on-line radio trades. Just six months ago, the Performance Royalty Fee wasn’t even considered to be a major threat by the radio industry.

Fred, we know you have personal reasons why you don’t want it. Your own monthly fee and whatever services you may offer your clients will become expendable if radio’s forced to pay that premium. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. You must really pine for those days when the label guys lined up in your lobby to kiss the ring, among other things. No wonder why you’re trying to get in the apps business.

It’s bad enough, Fred, you did that imprudent “Go for the Gold” promotion that had radio stations send photos of their lobbies filled with gold and platinum album awards to “prove” that radio sells music.

Yes, if only the labels didn’t have requests – some in writing, no less – from certain high profile station managers and programmers asking for more of them.

Here’s the other part of those awards you don’t understand – but should. Regardless of format, would you not want acts on your playlist to mature into superstars or do you prefer playing artists that can barely fill a club? Your call. You remember your original conception of the Edge? We do.

Just keep biting the hands that have been feeding you content for over sixty years. Smart.

You are in denial. You don’t want to accept that radio listeners are smart and savvy and know when they’re getting played. Like I say, if you want me to agree with you that the masses are asses then you have to agree with me that even asses know when they’re getting kicked, Capish?

Now we have Greater Media’s Help Save Radio web site.

Let me ask - do you really believe this is motivation material?

Mr. Smyth, instead of hiding behind reams of false prophet research go directly to your front lines. Go to your air talent, your street teams. Go to those that you never talk to. Those who interface with the public.

If you promise not to kill the messengers, they’ll tell you how much ground your losing – and how quickly you’re losing it. You have met the enemy. You.

The Smyth site asks listeners and clients to join their fight. Stop here for a moment. Step outside, breathe the same air as the common folk and let's assess the damage.

This is not the Summer of Love for radio and the labels or radio and its listeners for that matter.

And your clients have their own tribulations. They don’t need to hear about yours. Like the print media, these “save our industry” campaigns are only convincing clients to pursue other avenues of exposure.

Clients want to advertise on platforms that aren’t problematic. You're saying, "Our ship is sinking. Join us."

One PD told me over the weekend that the one positive that came out of Michael Jackson’s death was that many sought the instant gratification of hearing Jackson’s music. A large percentage did not have his music on their iPods – so radio became their prime destination for their Jackson fix.

What should that tell you? Radio’s not dead. Just dormant. If it programmed what potential listeners wanted to hear they wouldn’t be “potential.”

Of course, we had to deal with the bareboned Clear Channel, Cumulus, and other chain stations - in addition to Sirius XM - that were on autopilot and unprepared and unmanned to deal with Jackson’s sudden death. That’s what happens when you voice track a prime daypart a day or two in advance and lack a plan B.

You and I know that your “save our radio station” web sites, contests, and “go for gold” campaigns are not going to win this war. You have no one’s sympathy.

Anyone reading this should ask every service industry person you come in contact with between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five if they still listen to the radio. Just ask that one question. Do it for one day, one week. I don’t care. Then ask the second question. One word. Why?

Now, if you really want to fight the performance royalty fee for radio, please take the advise of rational minds.

Leave this campaign to the artists who see through the ruse of this performance royalty fee. It’s regrettable that your stations weren’t talking directly to artists and managers about this a few years back. This performance fee campaign didn’t just materialize yesterday. The threat had been on the table long enough for the radio industry – with or without the NAB – to do something about it.

Have you read Moby's (he's a recording artist, Fred) opinon on the performance fee on his web site? Did you hear what Dave Stewart (Eurythmics and solo artist, Fred) said about labels and royalties?

The labels are looking for a bailout and radio’s lack of organization makes it an easy tap.

I’ll make it real easy for you.

Most recording artists would rather not chance the six-figures that it cost to audit their label. Those that can afford to do so are most likely to be multi-platinum acts or their estates. The Beatles, the Stones, and Led Zeppelin are among those that audited their labels and found royalty payment improprieties.

So here’s the deal. I’m asking for any artist whose management audited their label and found absolutely no financial discrepancies of any kind to come forward to say the labels are on the level and can be trusted to equitably and adequately distribute royalties due.

I suggest that the radio industry make the same offer to all recording artists.


Anonymous said...

you got it right. radio chains were so crazed on buying, selling and controlling that they completely ignored the fact that the music industry had its own set of problems which would cause it to turn on radio which had turned on it. why radio looks at the labels as the enemy is confusing until you realize that its a perfect match up of ego on both sides. the labels no longer need radio and radio is convincing itself it doesnt need the labels or that it will all work out in the end. the real issue here is the future of both dated industries. instead of trying to find ways and means to work together and look to the future they are battling last century's war and both will be replaced by systems and industries that work better. your comment a few weeks back about radio & records renaming itself streaming & downloads said it best.

Anonymous said...

The radio industry does not even know how to contact managers or artists. They are so far removed from the music they play and the culture they serve that it would be close to impossible for radio to achieve the suggestion you presented. You may be right. But you may be too late. Radio is no match for the RIAA. They are well entrenched in Congress. Most artists feel betrayed by radio and could not care less whether it gets taxed or not. They know it will never reach them and this is why artists like Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails have left their labels and deal directly with the consumer bypassing both old fashioned retail and out of fashion radio.

Anonymous said...

John where were you last week. We thought you deserted us.

Glad to have you back. I enjoyed your blog today.

Two wrongs cannot make a right. Until radio and records (or what ever we should call it) gets their act together we will see a continuing stalemate.

If the RIAA succeeds in getting the royalty signed into law it will be all over for radio. It cannot afford both streaming audio fees and broadcast rights fees.

The sad thing is that it will hurt the up and coming artists.

The RIAA and radio have done nothing good for new music for a decade.

Anonymous said...

Everyone connected with the radio side of this argument are going about it the wrong way. There should have been reasoning, an olive branch and a back up plan. Smyth and Jacobs are just as bad as David Rehr. Start a fight and have others finish it for you. I think Smyth and Jacobs are addicted to getting their names in Inside Radio and RBR every other day and keep inventing more battles and products to keep their names in print. It is a real shame that this ego gratification is what our business has turned into. I worked for Greater Media. There are a lot of good people at that company working on the front lines. Your suggestion that Smyth spend some time with us is a good one. He will learn more in one afternoon with us than all the meetings he has with his bankers and managers who tell him what he wants to hear. What Smyth fails to understand is that it is us and not his managers who are really "selling" his stations.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Gorman You read my mind. I am a radio listener. I found this blog from your book blog and have been reading it with great interest. I have to admit that over the last few years when Michael Jackson was portrayed as "Whacko Jacko" I lost interest in him. His weirdness overshadowed his music and like many I was too quick to condemn him as a pedophile. I now feel he is just a boy who never grew up. When I heard of his death I wanted to hear those old Michael Jackson songs and even the Jackson 5. I never downloaded any Jackson songs on my Ipod so I turned on my radio which I rarely listen to other than NPR and sports and tried to find a station playing Michael Jackson music. The only stations that had anything about Jackson were NPR and talk stations. The music stations were way behind and where I live it wasn't until 7:00 pm that an adult contemporary station began playing Michael Jacksons music and even then they were repeating 'Beat it" and 'Billie Jean' every hour or so. You are right that if radio offered what we wanted to hear when we wanted to hear it we may go back to it. If this is the way radio handles the death of a pop icon I think radio will do itself more harm than good.

Anonymous said...

You are back.

We thought the Mays brothers, Dan Mason, Farid Suleman, Lew Dickhead, Peter Smythe and Fred Jacobs took up a collection to hire uncle Vito to rub you out.

Anonymous said...

“Radio is not dead,
what’s dead is what’s on it.”
- Educational Media Foundation CEO Mike Novak in today's Inside Radio.

How did that one get past the Clear Channel censors or maybe they just don't care anymore.

Anonymous said...

I think it is too late. Radio blew it. The record labels blew it. The consumer has moved on. The growing trend is the act dealing directly with the consumer and eliminating the middle man. This may not be the ideal situation for every artist which will in those cases help indie labels like Merge which pay their artists quarterly. I do not want or need to play games with radio stations anymore.

Anonymous said...

I will be willing to wager that not a single act will come forward to say their label was honest with their royalty payments. Labels write off everything including every lunch, dinner, bribe, gas to and from and any other expense on their artists. Who is to say how those expenses are distributed and removed from an artist's royalty payments. The labels have always been shady although the last few years consolidation has allowed them to bury and hide tons of money. Who knows who owns what masters anymore. Ask any act if they ever got paid when their music was leased to another label.

Anonymous said...

The Edge format was initially good. Jacobs hired Tom Calderone to head it up since Fred's knowledge of music ended with the Doobie Brothers. Calderone did a good job creating a synthetic alternative rock format. He could not stand working with the Jacobs brothers and was fortunate to land the MTV position through a fraternity brother. With Calderone gone Jacobs did not have a clue on what alternative rock was and he treated it like an active rock format by pulling off mostly female artists and anything too non-rock. In a matter of months he ruined the format by adding AC/DC and other album rock staples. Today most Edge stations are active rock formats. Jacobs is just like Abrams when it comes to a failed format. He blames the program director and his staff for his own failures.

Anonymous said...

I know when our radio industry dumbed down to the stage where it could not get anything constructive done. Radio and the NAB got punch drunk with power after the Telecommunication Act of 1996 and it believed it could do no wrong. I think the NAB and radio actually believed everything they were saying and it was not until the internet and satellite radio got traction that they realized they bit off more than they could chew By that time all the creative people were gone from radio. The owners who were more concerned about their stock price than their content and the radio chains had too many properties spread out over too many markets and could not effectively manage them.

Anonymous said...

I went on that Greater Media web site. I don't get it. What is the message they are trying to get across. Start with radio would be able to help far more people if it played what people wanted to hear and not have endless hours of commercials. If this Greater Media site is trying to make me feel sorry for radio it had the reverse effect. I feel sorry for anyone who is in the radio business especially at Greater Media. It is nothing but a self pity piece. This is an embarassment for anyone in radio who still believes it can be saved.

Anonymous said...

You are right about Michael Jackson. I think just about every music station voice tracks here. I heard about Jackson on NPR and talk radio long before any music radio station announced it. The first music station that did was a classic rock station which is one of the few that still have a live DJ. He made a joke about Wacko Jacko being dead and how he will spend eternity is hell. Yes this is what radio has become. Later in the evening three stations began playing all Jackson music and you could tell it was being done haphazzardly with no thought and no live jocks.

Anonymous said...

Fred Jacobs, Fred Jacobs, Fred Jacobs, Peter Smythe, Peter Smythe, Peter Smythe - enufffff already!

I fully agree that they are part of the problem and not the solution. There are others that deserve your attention. How about naming the names at the RIAA and the labels. They are the real villains in all of this.

Anonymous said...

There will be a performance tax. There will be more talk, news & sports and less music on terrestrial radio & eventually radio will cease to function as a music provider. That is the only logical conclusion. Even if & when the fire sales occur & radio stations sell for pennies on the dollar I do not see music returning to radio. Young people do not listen to the radio for music. If you ask me to believe the propaganda that claims the oppposite I am truly sorry. I don't believe it. You hear about the jobs that are never coming back. Programming and announcing music radio are among them.

Anonymous said...

"nonymous said... Fred Jacobs, Fred Jacobs, Fred Jacobs, Peter Smythe, Peter Smythe, Peter Smythe - enufffff already!"

No - more, more, more! LMFAO!

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said... There will be a performance tax. There will be more talk, news & sports and less music on terrestrial radio & eventually radio will cease to function as a music provider."

God, I hope so! I'de luv to have this help kill HD Radio!

Anonymous said...

What Wacko Jaco(bs) has not told anyone is that having your station as an app does not mean anyone will ever listen to it if it sounds like crrrraaaap!

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said... What Wacko Jaco(bs) has not told anyone is that having your station as an app does not mean anyone will ever listen to it if it sounds like crrrraaaap!"

Of course they won't be listening, but will be listening to Pandora, Slacker,, etc., instead.

Anonymous said...

Peter Smyth means well. He is guided by the wrong people and he believes them without question. He is loyal beyond reason. He is basically a good person who is surrounded by a lot of people taking advantage of him. There is a little of Peter in him as well.

I like the guy a lot. I would like to figure out a way to tell him who his true friends really are.

Anonymous said...

Maybe he's a little peter!

Anonymous said...

The psychosis in here is amazing. If "douchebaggery" were a word more than a few of you would qualify. This isn't a Smyth question or a Jacobs question (though these two guys must have beaten John senseless at some point -- oh I forgot, Detroit!)it's far bigger than these two guys. Personally I'd find this site a lot more interesting if solutions were presented even odd ones to debate back and forth. You could spend a lifetime telling me how this guy's a moron, this one's an idiot, and that one's an ass. Who cares -- present ideas to fix things as opposed to trashing anyone who tries anything you think is stupid. Either that or go work for other hitmen like Karl Rove.

Anonymous said...

Rather than this turn into a name and rank calling why not address the suggestion Gorman makes which is to encourage artists to speak for radio.

It makes sense that the artists will carry more weight with the consumer than radio executives.

Why not start with Moby and Dave Stewart?

Anonymous said...

Moby and Dave Stewart aren't exactly all that relevant and it's hard to imagine more than a tiny handful of artists having the guts to do anything like this

Anonymous said...

Smyth and Greater Media are headquartered in Boston not Detroit. The stations are in an old Finast store on Morrisey Blvd. in Dot.

Anonymous said...

It is not about relevancy toward the consumer. This is about who can speak effectively to Congress in favor of radio staying performance fee free. I would prefer artists like Moby, Dave Stewart, David Byrne, etc. A couple of star-power artists would not hurt though.

Anonymous said...

I was surprised that Dave Stewart was in favor of keeping radio exempt from any performance fees. When the Eurythmics got back together for a greatest hits album and tour they recorded a new song "I changed the world today" that was number one all over the world EXCEPT IN THE US where it did not receive any airplay. It was a mass appeal hot AC ballad. I was not aware of it until I was in Germany on business and heard it everywhere. It was one of Annie Lennox's best performances. I found out that radio in the US boycotted the song because there was no payola payment attached to it. Jeff McClusky, Marty Schwartz and others deliberately kept it off the air because their manager would not do a pay-play deal with the indies and the hot AC consultants. So give credit to Dave Stewart for not holding it against radio for costing him any airplay a few years back on a number one world wide hit.

Anonymous said...

***Smyth and Greater Media are headquartered in Boston not Detroit.**

The reference may have been that Gr Media has a radio presence in Detroit....and has been there for almost 30 years.

** The stations are in an old Finast store on Morrissey Blvd. in Dot.**

Gr Media headquarters are in Braintree.

Their Boston stations are indeed on Morrissey Blvd, but they are in the old Hub Mail building...*next* to the old Finast store on one side (and the Boston Globe on the other).

Anonymous said...

"Personally I'd find this site a lot more interesting if solutions were presented even odd ones to debate back and forth."

John's well as Jerry DelColliano's blog are filled with villains (Fagreed, Smythe) and gloom and doom.

I suppose that is more fun for the both of them than to actually have a blog that proposes ideas and solutions.

Anonymous said...

i think john and jerry have different viewpoints on radio. jerry has declared terrestrial radio dead. john still believes it can be saved. they do share opinions about the current radio ceos. i cannot disagree w/their opinions of them. of the two i believe only john is involved in consulting radio. he consulted a station i was at & worked on music, clocks, staff. not a single person was replaced or displaced so i have to like the guy. he is still passionate about radio & realistic at the same time. he like jerry predicted that this would be the year the major chains fall. jerry thinks radio is over while john believes the outcome will result in more owners and a return to localism and regionalism. jerry has completely given up on radio and is pushing a podcast consulting service he has. i think both make viable points. i will take their passion and love of radio over the eunichs running radio today. i don't find them to be bitter just bitingly honest and if you read all of their material they do offer solutions.

Anonymous said...

**....and if you read all of their material they do offer solutions.**

I do read their blogs all the time...and I see more pointing out errors than new ideas.

Radio is in a tough bind now....the perfect storm as it were.

Radio needs ideas and creative people. Instead of attacking everyone for their foibles. Thats easy to do.

Anonymous said...

"Radio needs ideas and creative people."

Creative people? Sorry, but the investment bankers saw them as a financial liability instead of an asset. They were either fired or quit. It would take some big changes in the industry to get them to come back. That won't happen until the current crop of big group owners lose it all and fire sale their stations to people who are actually interested in doing radio.

Anonymous said...

Creative people? Sorry, but the investment bankers saw them as a financial liability instead of an asset. They were either fired or quit.

That's the problem. Now, the solution? Just wait them out?

Anonymous said...

Labels may have unclean hands as far accounting over the years but radio hasn't ever played artists for building their business off of music. Secondly, I'm not sure how labels screwing artists leads to artists sticking up for radio on this issue. Under the current bill (House and Senate) in Congress, HR 848 and S 379, the royalty is distributed directly to the artists without any prior recoupment against the artist's account. This is one time artists have joined together with the labels because the compensation they are owed from radio play goes directly into their pockets.

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