Pay for Play

The first time I heard “Palisides Park” I couldn’t wait to run out and find the album.  It didn’t exist so I have it on a compliation with other great songs I listen to regularly.

After I heard the Dixie Chicks version of “Stand By Your Man” I had to have Tammy Wynette’s version.  I bought both.

In an age where CD collections are a thing of the pat, mine continues to grow because of great radio stations like 580 Memories, CKWW.  They used to play songs from the 30’s and 40;s but since that demographic is quickly going the way of the 8-track, it’s a rare treat to hear the Chordettes or Woody Herman.

During my drive to work this morning, I get the news break signalling I’m late (again) and I hear something mentioning this:

The issue is a simple one: Sinatra and her gang want radio to pay performers when it plays one of their songs. The current and outdated law requires payment only to the songwriters and publishers. It’s a fairness issue, she says.

“They’re taking things from artists, musicians, sidemen, background singers—they are taking from them, but they are not paying them. That’s not fair,” she tells Whispers. It’s really tough on old singers and one-hit wonders who performed other people’s music. “A lot of them died penniless,” she says. “It’s all about fair play, basically. My dad started trying to get this done 30 or 40 years ago, and I’m picking up the ball now because it’s not fair. We don’t have a level playing field,” she adds.

Broadcasters make a legitimate case: Playing a song is free publicity that promotes the sales of records and CDs; thus, performers already make money. But with oldies making up about 60 percent of the music on radio, listeners are just grooving to their memories and aren’t buying old CDs, so performers are going broke, say the proponents of new legislation to pay them. Also, supporters of the bill say, terrestrial radio will simply be following satellite radio and Internet radio in paying performers, not just songwriters.

Level playing field?  You mean the free advertising you get from having your music listened to?  You mean the only way new fans can discover your music and then respond by running out an buying it?

I wish writers had that kind of free advertising.  There is the Library, but it isn’t as if people can hear a chapter and then run out and buy the whole book.

Lots of the older music I listen to isn’t available on CD or iTunes (the debbil, I know).  If Nancy and others are concerned with not making money off their music, perhaps she should take it up with her record company.  Start re-releasing albums and re-negotiating contracts with the record execs to be paid fairly from them.  I’m not saying go out and make another record to attempt at making yourself relevant, because  – no,please –  but make an effort by touring or making appearances to remind the rest of the world that you had great albums and we should buy them.

Making radio stations pay to play your music will signal the total collapse of free radio (as if ClearChannel isn’t trying to do that anyway).  It’s bad enough we have record companies paying stations to put songs in heavy rotation so I have to hear the same damn song ten times an hour. 

A list of the people who want radio to no  longer be free:

Here’s the list of performers and artists lobbying on the bill:
Vince Trombetta
Ron Sexton
Terry Sweet
Neil Stubenhaus
Lovie Smith-Schenk (president of AFM Houston local)
Alejo Poveda
Kenny Skaggs
Nancy Sinatra
Bob Cranshaw
Arturo O’Farrell
John Lindberg
David Spinozza
Leonard DiCosimo
Jimmy Owens
Marian Leighton-Levy
William Carter (Whodini)
Jalil Hutchings (Whodini)
Dan Navarro
Kristine W
Herta Suarez (AFTRA executive director of Miami local)
Hadassa Candiani–aka Adassa
Brian Priebe
Linda Priebe
Dan Workman
Wil Gravatt
Sugar Hill Gang (Michael Wright, Henry Williams, Carl Smith)
Maysa

Can you imagine if authors demanded Libraries start paying everytime a book was rented?

Stations like 580 depend on Advertisers as it is to make revenue.   Paying artists to play their music could do one of two things – drive great independent radio stations (waves to 1460 WPON) out of business, or worse, becomes a racket where only some songs get played over and over again … hmmm…..