Recording Industry Protesting “Piracy” Of Terrestrial Radio Via Gag Gifts

noah | June 24, 2008 12:00 pm

The recording industry is still locked in a battle with the radio business, saying that radio needs to help them fatten their profit margins to pre-Napster levels pay royalties on the songs it plays, because music is the lifeblood of radio and this whole “free play” thing that’s been in effect for years is just not fair. The National Association of Broadcasters, which represents the terrestrial-radio industry, claims that the reason it doesn’t pay royalties for playing music involves radio’s value as a “promotional tool,” which stems from the idea that, perhaps, maybe people will actually be moved to acquire music after actually getting a chance to hear it and decide whether or not they like it. But musicians and record labels and songwriters are not having it. They want their money now! As musicFirst spokesman Martin Machowsky told Wired‘s Threat Level: “[Broadcasting songs on radio is] a form of piracy, if you will, but not in the classic sense as we think of it… Today we gifted them a can of herring, about their argument that they provide promotional value. We think that’s a red herring.” (What is this, Clue?) “Nobody listens to the radio for the commercials.” Tell that to the guy who sings the Foxwoods commercial, Martin!

The music industry’s gifts don’t stop at cans of fish:

The NAB says its members should not pay royalties because AM-FM radio “promotes” the music industry.

The herring present followed another gift — a dictionary, a bid by the recording industry to explain what it saw as the difference between fees and taxes. The NAB describes the latest royalty proposal as a tax.

And two weeks ago, the recording industry, under the umbrella group musicFIRST, sent the NAB four digital downloads: “Take the Money and Run” by the Steve Miller Band; “Pay me My Money Down” by Bruce Springsteen; “Back In the U.S.S.R” by Paul McCartney and “A Change Would Do You Good” by Sheryl Crow.

I sure hope those downloads were paid for! A House subcommittee is scheduled to vote on the royalty-rate issue as early as Thursday. Meanwhile, here are a few other gift suggestions:

A CD-ROM with nothing but ads for local carpet cleaners and prank calls from morning zoos on repeat. Frankly, given Machowsky’s statement, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was next on the biz’s wish list.

A Nicole Scherzinger blow-up doll. So those radio meanies can see what they’ll be missing if the music industry takes their songs and goes home.

A screwdriver and an eyepatch. To drive the point home. Who knows, someone may even get the bright idea to use them in tandem.

M.I.A.’s Piracy Funds Terrorism mix CD. What better way to intimidate your opponents in 2008 than to tar them with the big, mean “T” word? Although this may backfire if any of the music bigwigs hear all those uncleared samples… OK, maybe we need to rethink this.

Recording Industry Decries AM-FM Broadcasting as ‘A Form of Piracy’ [Threat Level]