Five years ago, in the Onion:
“It’s criminal,” RIAA president Hilary Rosen said. “Anyone at any time can simply turn on a radio and hear a copyrighted song. Making matters worse, these radio stations often play the best, catchiest song off the album over and over until people get sick of it. Where is the incentive for people to go out and buy the album?”
RIAA attorney Russell Frackman said the lawsuit is intended to protect the artists.
“If this radio trend continues, it will severely damage a musician’s ability to earn a living off his music,” Frackman said. “[Metallica drummer] Lars Ulrich stopped in the other day wondering why his last royalty check was so small, and I didn’t know what to say. How do you tell a man who’s devoted his whole life to his music that someone is able to just give it away for free? That pirates are taking away his right to support himself with his craft?”
Yesterday, in the Los Angeles Times:
With CD sales tumbling, record companies and musicians are looking at a new potential pot of money: royalties from broadcast radio stations.
For years, stations have paid royalties to composers and publishers when they played their songs. But they enjoy a federal exemption when paying the performers and record labels because, they argue, the airplay sells music.
Now, the Recording Industry Assn. of America and several artists’ groups are getting ready to push Congress to repeal the exemption, a move that could generate hundreds of millions of dollars annually in new royalties.
Mary Wilson, who with Diana Ross and Florence Ballard formed the original Supremes, said the exemption was unfair and forced older musicians to continue touring to pay their bills.
“After so many years of not being compensated, it would be nice now at this late date to at least start,” the 63-year-old Las Vegas resident said in Milwaukee, where she was performing at the Potawatomi Bingo Casino. “They’ve gotten 50-some years of free play. Now maybe it’s time to pay up.”
Rather sadly, the Onion is becoming the new Nostradamus — only a lot more accurate.