Music is a consumable, and just as it is with any consumable, the person who benefits from it should compensate the person who created it. In the case of terrestrial (AM/FM) radio, airplay has always been viewed as “promotional”, meaning that traditional radio stations are exempt from paying anything back to the artists (they do pay royalties to the songwriters and publsihers). It’s true that back when airplay was the sole catalyst for record sales, radio was how people discovered new music. The peanuts that artists would have received for airlplay would have been a drop in the bucket compared to the royalties from a million seller. But that was back before digital transmission and file sharing removed the “piece of plastic” from the equation—changing the record industry in ways we would have never dreamed possible.


Meanwhile, for the Indie artist who is trying to build a fanbase, Internet radio has become the true promoter—opening doors for artists to reach a mass audience, one small mass at a time. Unfortunately, for these artists, this promotion takes place at the grass roots level. The vast majority of iRadio stations have just a handfull of listeners, yet the to music licensing rules and rates view them as profit centers. if you don’t believe me, just go to SoundExchange or StreamLicensing. SoundExchange, for example, wants a minimum of $500 a year plus .0023 for every song played, for a basic license, regardless of how many people tune in. Why bother.




I have no idea how much of that money ever makes it back to the artist and I’ve yet to speak with an artists who has ever received  nickel one from iRadio play.

So, there’s no question that the system is a mess.


In what will (hopefully) prove to be good news for performers as well as the growing number of grassroots Internet broadcasters who truly are promoting new artists, Rep. Jerrold Nadler of NY is developing legislation to address the problems in existing copyright law with what he’s calling a music ominbus — or MusicBus. In his opening statement yesterday (6/10), Nadler told the other members of Congress, “It is often said that if we started from scratch, nobody would write the law the way it stands today. Music copyright and licensing is a patchwork of reactions to changing technologies. From the development of player pianos and phonograph records to the advent of radio and the Internet, the law is constantly playing catch up, and quite often failing.”


He’s quite right about that and as an example of the inequities in the current law, Nadler said, “One of the most glaring inconsistencies and injustice is that our performing artists, background musicians and others rights holders of sound recordings receive absolutely no compensation when their music is played over-the-air on terrestrial – meaning AM/FM – radio.” Since 1995, Congress has required payment from Intenrte broadcasters, which (at the time) promoted many iRadio “shoestring” operations to sign off—permanently. As Nadle told Cngress, “We have yet to extend this basic protection to artists when their songs are played on AM/FM radio. This is incredibly unjust. The bottom line is that terrestrial radio profits from the intellectual property of recording artists for free.”


If you’d like more information on how this legislation is progressing, or to get intouch with Rep. Nadler, click the links below:


Click here to read the entire text of Rep. Nadler’s comments

Hearings Underway …