The Recording Industry Association of America is trying to kill local radio. You heard me. After gaining the notorious distinction of killing Napster in the early part of this decade and hauling hundreds of college music downloaders off to court of jail, the RIAA is gunning for your local radio station.
In an effort to shore up their busted business model (when’s the last time you bought an actual CD, as opposed to downloading from iTunes), the labels have taken every conceivable tack from taxing songs streamed via the internet (hence why many stations refuse to stream their broadcast content), to bullying Steve Jobs and Apple (hence why some songs are now $1.29 instead of 99-cents), and now to taxing radio stations for actually playing music.
As George Strait, and dozens of other marquee artists, points out, “You can’t take being played on the radio for granted,” Strait said. “There are only so many spots and many great singers out there wanting one. It’s a jungle out there.” The undisputed King of Country Music is right on the money. Artists are made and legends forged over the airwaves. While the internet and particularly the iTunes platform has been a boon for a number of indie artists and otherwise unheard performers, blockbusters and superstars don’t happen without the success of radio airplay.
The RIAA is pushing legislation that would charge a performance “royalty,” i.e. tax, from radio stations for each song they play. So, in addition to the fees paid to the FCC for broadcast licensing of the radio station itself, to increasing federal and state taxes on numerous areas of business, now the Recording Industry wants to tax radio stations for doing the very thing the artist needs to survive: playing their songs.
I can’t encourage you strongly enough to get involved. Call, write, or email to your Congressman and Senators in Washington. The National Association of Broadcasters has some great information to get you up to speed. Radio stations across the nation serve their local communities by providing local news and information, and this onerous tax will seriously harm their ability to fulfill that mission. Don’t let the recording industry tax your local radio station out of business.
Oh, and while the RIAA rolls out musicians from B.B. King to Brooks and Dunn to stump for the tax, consider the often repeated cases of artists who’ve either blown their windfalls and gone bankrupt on been screwed out of their fortunes by the very labels now coercing them to call for this tax.