Radio Stations Say Perfomance Royalty Could Cost Jobs

By Stormy Holt and Chandelis Duster
VCU InSight

The issue of fair play for air play has been causing some controversy on Capitol Hill between the recording industry and radio broadcasters.

The Performance Rights Act is a new bill in Congress that if passed would make radio stations pay performers, not just song writers, when their music is played over the air. The amount the radio stations will pay will be based off of their annual revenue.

Radio stations have been paying royalties to songwriters for years. The National Association of Broadcasters opposes the bill.  Reggie Baker, Program Director and on-air host for Praise 104.7,  says if the bill goes into effect it will lead to job loss.

“Because of the money that would be paid to these artists, so to say, will cut into things that could be going through the company in general to help keep people employed in different communities,” said Baker.

Stations that make around a million dollars a year would pay about 5,000 dollars. But for stations like Radio One who has four stations, who makes close to seven million dollars a year, they could end up paying tens of thousands annually.

But earlier this month the US Department of Commerce said in a letter to the senate committee handling this issue that providing compensation to performers was a matter of fundamental fairness. Member of the Music First Coalition, Marty Machowsky, told us via email, “What we are seeking is fair compensation for artist and musicians for use of their copyrighted work. A.M. and F.M. radio stations earn billions each year without compensation the artists and musicians who bring music to life and listeners’ ears to the radio dial. We think that’s wrong…”

VCU’s student radio stations WVCW the bill will have little to no effect because they broadcast online instead of over the air.

Business Manager for WVCW Lauren Geerdes says, “So at this very moment WVCW will pretty much be in the clear because we pay performers through sound exchange.”

Sound exchange is a non-profit organization that handles royalty payments for internet only stations.

Artists in support of the performance rights act include Mariah Carey, Sheryl Crow, Jay-z, and Celine Dion. Committees in both the US House and Senate have recommended it for a vote.

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