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.