Radio & Satellite

White House to Radio Stations: “Pay to Play.”

image from In a new White House report, IP Czar Victoria Espinel comes out in favor of radio stations paying artists when their music is played on-air. Espinel recommends "creating a right of public performance for copyright owners for sound recordings transmitted by over-the-air broadcast stations." Depending which side of the issue you stand on, this suggestion can be taken either way, abosolutely great or bad.

If you're a Pandora user, it's likely that you support traditional radio having to pay the exact same fees they do. If you're a music industry critic, it's likely that you believe that labels shouldn't be able to tax stations for promoting their music.

After all, the labels used to pay stations to play their music because they viewed radio play as advertising. But, the labels, in case you haven't heard, have seen sales of recorded music decline and are now looking to collect their bounty.

Of course, the debate isn't that black and white, but it's how varied opinions are.

Considering that Pandora almost went belly up due to royalty costs, it's tempting to argue that the nails should be stuck to stations. It's only fair, as it would place the two on level playing fields, and come on, who doesn't want artists to get paid?

Then again, this is the music industry and if the past is any sign, those royalties could get "lost" in the label system and never quite find their way back to artists.

So, while it's championed that artists will get paid, it's the labels that benefit.

Where do you stand on this issue?

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  1. I think that any venue that pushes the pursuit of music into the public is a good thing. Be it radio, streaming, etc. We want more active music fans, right? Terrestrial radio, however, usually plays only mainstream big label stuff, so their plight doesn’t really hit home with most of us musicians. I really like pandora, they play mainstream music right next to indie, and I have a friend that is one of their analysts, so I’d like them to stay afloat. Pandora’s model seems to be closer to the future so I’m sure it will stay. Radio stations have so much overhead that I’m sure they are destined to go the way of the video stores. Look at what Netflix and Redbox have done to the likes of Blockbuster and Hollywood video.
    Aaron Gibson

  2. It seems to me this is just one more way for the major labels to collect. There are so many complaints about the “artists” not making enough. If this were a situation where smaller labels could get their artists on the radio, then yes. I understand that the major labels and artists used to make lots more money, but they are such a small, select few while there are tons of talented, hardworking, and deserving artists out there who are struggling and should see a some success, too!
    Free album download at

  3. This is just the way the US Govt gets extra money out of the N.A.B lobby. pay no attention to this.
    NAB = National Association of Broadcasters
    When they want money from the RIAA Lobby ….
    they pull the ” Lets Censor All Music ” crap
    Happens every few years

  4. The white paper actually goes into a lot more about illegal streaming and gives the clear impression that what this will lead to is that any sites that stream infringing content and stream it (and therefore they are downloading to your computer) will be monitored through wiretaps etc and be punished. I wouldn’t be surprised it it leads to many more sites getting shut down. Moses Avalon has a great analysis about what the white paper actually means… and some great debating in his comments! This seems like a really big issue. I wish more people were covering it.. or at least more in depth.

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