Did Petulant Radio Programmers Take Off U2′s “Boots” After Bono Spoke Up About Royalties?

Jun 10th, 2009 // 9 Comments

An AP article this morning on a filing that the musicFIRST Coalition made with the FCC starts off with a tantalizingly blind item-y lede: “Which top-selling artist purportedly had his new single yanked from some radio stations playlists in retaliation for supporting royalties for musicians?” Ooh, who could it be? Well, given the roster of artists who publicly came out in support of radio stations paying out royalties to performers whose music got airplay–which would cost radio stations a huge chunk of change, there’s really only one answer!

In the filing, the musicFIRST Coalition says the top-selling artist — there are hints it could be U2 frontman Bono — recently released a new album and spoke during April in support of an effort to require radio stations to pay musicians royalties similar to those paid to songwriters.

Soon after, it said, “several stations within a major radio broadcast group notified the artist’s label that they would no longer play his single on the air.”

Representatives for musicFIRST refused to identify the artist.

U2′s album, “No Line on the Horizon,” was released in March with its leadoff single, “Get on Your Boots.”

In April, Bono issued a statement on behalf of pay for musicians, saying, “It’s only fair that when radio makes money by playing a recording artist’s music … the recording artist should be compensated just as songwriters are already.”

Calls and e-mails to a spokeswoman for Bono were not immediately returned.

Other artists involved with musicFIRST include Don Henley, Celine Dion, Christina Aguilera and Wyclef Jean.

None of whom had new albums come out in April. The single in question is allegedly “Get On Your Boots,” which was released to radio in the winter and hit the summit of only one of the three airplay-only rock charts: the Triple-A chart, which, as Al Shipley noted at the time of the song’s release, is “seemingly tailored directly to U2’s demographic” It stalled out at No. 26 on the Mainstream Rock chart, and only reached No. 5 on Modern Rock–and it seems to have dropped off airplay charts altogether in March, only eight weeks after it was initially released to radio and weeks before Bono released his statement in April. (Perhaps the kerfuffle is about “Magnificent,” which was released to radio in May and has been slower to catch fire than “Boots”?)

Of course, this mass exodus from playing “Boots” after its cycle had ended could have been because the song wasn’t really in line with the harder-edged, younger music some of the stations in question specialize in; “I was hoping for an explanation of why they wrote and released the piece of crap–I thought it flopping was self-explanatory,” Al wrote to me this morning when I sent him a link to this story under the subject line “The real story behind ‘Get On Your Boots’? ”

Complaint says top musician dissed over royalties [AP]

  1. Regardless of the merits of the U2 single (I’m with Al; “Boots” was destined to fail — but I am somewhat mystified by the problems the much catchier “Magnificent” is having at radio), this smells to me like nothing so much as the payola-payback radio boycott of singles by the Who, Pink Floyd and Loverboy described in Fredric Dannen’s Hit Men:


  2. I’m with Al and Chris as well: it failed because it sucked. Even U2 bombs sometimes (pun intended). Is radio still that important to album sales? I haven’t listened to the radio other than NPR in a decade, and I hardly even listen to NPR anymore.

  3. @revmatty: I guess ripping off a Future Clouds & Radar (formerly of Cotton Mather) song for your lead single isn’t the recipe for chart success you’d think it would be. Ahem.

  4. @Thierry: I really like Future Clouds and Radar.

  5. @Lucas Jensen: So do I, but listen to “Get Your Boots On” and try telling me that U2 have never heard that riff – the song title similarity doesn’t seem all that coincidental after that, does it?

  6. @Thierry: What’s your point? Are you their lawyer or something? Everyone here agrees that the U2 single sucked, try to stay on topic.

  7. @slowburn: Hey, I just thought it was a pretty striking similarity. That said, I agree that if whoever wrote this’s case rests on “Boots” tanking, then it is a pretty weak one (and I’m someone whose on the record as ranking Pop in my top 5 U2 albums).

  8. @slowburn: Stay on topic in an Idolator forum?! Them’s fightin’ words. :)

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