Thursday, June 14, 2007

best mix of the same stuff

The musicFirst Coalition wants radio stations to pay royalties for the songs they play on air. The National Association of Broadcasters will fight the proposal on the grounds that recording artists already benefit from increased sales due to radio airplay. Somewhere along the way somebody caved and allowed the recording industry to collect royalties for Internet streaming of music. Artists should get paid for songs that are downloaded but why get paid for streaming? Radio airplay and Internet streaming are both great promotional tools for the music industry.

I feel that music radio depends too heavily on the recording industry to supply its product. Let's say that you have a radio station that only plays the best songs that everyone wants to hear. There is absolutely nothing stopping a competitor from playing the exact same songs in the exact same order. The music does not make your station unique. It's the deejays and talk show hosts who set your station apart from the next one down the dial. I doubt that the musicFirst Coalition will succeed in collecting a penny from radio stations. All my friends in radio know how tight the budgets are at every station. But in a hypothetical situation, suppose that radio was required to pay for the music it plays. Many stations across the country might drop their music altogether and switch to talk formats featuring interesting, funny, relatable, local hosts who connect with their audience. When the ratings go up, more radio stations nationwide drop the music and find success with unique content that can't be duplicated by a competitor. That wouldn't be a bad thing at all. Eventually the record companies would have to start buying airtime or begin streaming music over the Internet themselves to get exposure for their artists.

Also check out Mark Ramsey's post at Hear 2.0.

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