Sunday, March 1, 2009

Music Lobby Days on the Hill

The Recording Academy and the musicFIRST Coalition are getting together in D.C. on Monday and Tuesday to lobby Congress for passage of the Performance Rights Act, which was reintroduced by John Conyers (D-MI) and Darrell Issa (R-CA).

As a governor elected by the Academy's Pacific Northwest chapter, I had a conversation with a trustee about make the trip down from the Cape and participating. I hesitate because I have mixed feelings. The performance rates set for webcasters seem designed to squash growth and concentrate programming in the hands of the few, which rings in an eerily similar way to one piece of the puzzle that has put the recording industry in the challenged position it is in today.

Click here to download the text of the bill. (49kb PDF)


  1. You are right about the webcaster performance rates, they are designed to shrink the pool of webcasters and give the RIAA the kind of control over internet radio that it has enjoyed over terrestrial radio for decades.

    Your mixed feelings about the terrestrial performance rate is understandable, too. Artists need to be able to make a living, but these performance royalties seem designed to shift responsibility for that living from labels to radio. As I'm sure you noticed, radio is not exactly thriving these days -- ClearChannel laid off thousands just a couple of weeks ago. Trying to squeeze blood from a stone is a misdirected effort, especially when said effort further damages an already failing industry that has helped in the past and can continue to help artists in the future-- now that's powerful dumb.

  2. Ted, you're ringing a lot of bells. I pointed out to a fellow governor that this hoped for success with the PRA is akin to a hobbled man trying to catch a lift from a horse and buggy.

    The Recording Academy must at some point recognize that it represents the recording artists while the RIAA represents the recorded product. These interests once had such a strong alignment that being in lockstep made a lot of sense. That is no longer the case.

  3. What we are doing is setting the groundwork for the future of our industry. If we set the rates to high we will limit creativity, to low it will not be worth it to produce it.