Clear Channel’s Attempt At “Indie Outreach” Strangely Resembles Pickpocketing

Jun 22nd, 2007 // 4 Comments

artfuldodger.jpgSo remember that payola settlement from a few months ago, the one that was supposed to give indie labels a leg up on the radio by mandating that a certain amount of programming had to be on those labels? Well, we thought that the intent of the program would be torpedoed by the shows airing during “public affairs” hours (also known as “7 a.m. Sunday”), but Clear Channel’s version of the program, which is called Discover NEW! Artists and somehow includes the Universal-signed Sick Puppies among its ranks, is somehow worse, and not just because it includes that very crummy Australian band. The wrinkle is this: Bands and labels that agree to the deal agree to sign away their royalty rights in perpetuity:

The Future of Music Coalition contends that Clear Channel is forcing independent musicians to sign a contract containing language that gives up musicians’ rights to a performance royalty if the company uses their music for Webcasts.

“This is outrageous,” FMC executive director Jenny Toomey said. “This is like the fox getting caught in the henhouse a second time and arguing that he shouldn’t get in trouble because he was leaving the hens alone. He was just eating all their eggs.”

A copy of the license agreement on WWDC 101, a Clear Channel station in Washington, includes language saying: “You grant to Clear Channel the royalty-free nonexclusive right and license in perpetuity (unless terminated earlier by You or Clear Channel as set forth below) to use, copy, modify, adapt, translate, publicly perform, digitally perform, publicly display and distribute any sound recordings, compositions, pictures, videos, song lyrics …”

Specifics of what, exactly, Clear Channel would do with those songs (maybe play them?) aren’t offered up by the eight-page document; Contentinople is theorizing that this little bit of legal dancing is merely laying the groundwork for Clear Channel to start its own record label, which we guess would technically be an “indie”–and it’s an interesting theory, given that the promotional apparatus of radio stations and billboards is already in place. But wouldn’t that seem like some sort of unfair vertical integration as well?

Musicians say Clear Channel cheats on pact [Hollywood Reporter]

  1. mackro

    So many innovative ways to kill radio dead even quicker.

    “Hear Sick Puppies exclusively on the… RADIO! It was your grandfather’s favorite way to listen to hot new tunes!”

  2. danielmcswain

    The whole thing reeks.

    As more and more royalties chip away at radio’s bottom line (online and AM/FM), the phrase “royalty-free” could take “payola”‘s place in the legal lexicon, and quickly.

    I’ve written more about this in today’s issue of RAIN (bottom story).

  3. ghostmedia

    So why is it legal to sign away royalties for terrestrial radio, but artists (independent or otherwise) are legally unable to offer their songs to internet radio royalty free?

  4. Trackback

    Hell yes, Soul Shower is back; Maybe We Ain’t That Young Anymore hosts a Song Smackoff! — here’s Round 1, bracket 1, Round 1, bracket 2, and Round 2 — and then heads to the soundboard for some live Huey Lewis; Jeff Vrabel discovers that Thomas the Tank Engine hates him, then…

Leave A Comment