Telling it like it is!

I’ve been working on this issue via my position within the Roots Music Association. I can’t tell you how vital it is that all affected sectors speak up about this issue to their congressmen and women. Next week I’ll be providing more details about how you can become involved in the efforts to force the CRB to revisit this decision — in the meantime put your thinking caps on as to just how this ruling could effect you personally if it stands as a consumer, an artist or a webcaster. If you’d like to become more active in the RMA – membership is FREE and you can sign up online here. The association is committed to a wide range of goals that aim to support the viability of all roots based genres from country to blues to jazz….

Veteran entertainment and music lawyer Fred Wilhelms (pictured) takes SoundExchange’s John Simson to task over Simson’s public support fred wilhelmsfor the CRB webcast royalty rate decision.

Wilhelms stresses that Simson is exaggerating the artist community support for the rates —and that the CRB rate will significantly harm artists, in terms of both exposure and earnings.

From “Last night, I circulated the following letter among my clients and friends in the recording artist community….  

“It is my firm belief, shared by almost everyone not on the CRB or working for SoundExchange, that thenew rates will severely cripple Internet radio by leaving it in the hands of a small group of well-heeled players… All those great places to hear new and unusual music, and even ‘niche’ genres like soul, jazz, blues and folk, are in jeopardy of closing down, or moving their operations outside the U.S., where the artists won’t get paid for the use of their recordings.

“That is one reason why I believe the new rates hurt artists

“This letter is intended as the antidote to [SoundExchange Executive Director John] Simson’s fevered imagination about how artists feel aboutcounterpunch  Internet radio and the new rates. While I was drafting the letter, David Byrne of the Talking Heads issued his personal rebuttal to the new rates [previous RAIN coverage here]. The group letter just makes his solo into a chorus.

“I figure I will have enough artists sign on by the end of the week to start spreading this around the Internet. I’ll keep you posted.


We are recording artists.

Among us, we have quite a number of gold and platinum records and almost too many awards to count. Some of us have been recording for nearly 50 years. Many of us are recording today, but you wouldn’t know it from AM or FM radio. At best, you might hear one or two of our old songs every once in a while on some Oldies station. You never hear our new stuff. 

So we love Internet radio. There are Internet stations that play our older stuff, which is great. Even better, there are Internet stations that play our new songs, and people who have heard them tell us we sound better than ever…

SoundExchange… is saying it thinks there are too many Internet stations, and that maybe the ones that can’t make money should be “weeded out” for the good of the artists. We don’t understand how having fewer stations playing music can be good for artists. The more stations there are, the more music, and more artists, will be heard. That’s just logical…

Don’t get us wrong.  We like to be paid for our music. Internet stations should pay a reasonable fee for playing our music… That’s a fair solution: They get to play our music. We get heard, and we get paid… That sounds like everyone wins.

These fees should all go through SoundExchange, too, because if they do, we get our share.  That’s the law. Under the new system, the label can take the Internet license fees directly, and they don’t have to pay the artists anything. Our experience is that if they don’t have to pay us, they won’t.

We already have heard about some radio services negotiating directly with the labels, and that isn’t good news for artists.  SoundExchange has quoted some artists who are defending the high royalty rates, but we suspect those artists don’t know the whole story.    

So it is time you let your voice be heard. Call, write, and email your Senators and Congressperson… Let them know you think the new CRB royalty rates will be a disaster for Internet radio, for its audiences and for the artists.

Join us. Together we can save Internet radio now for all of us, now and for future generations of webcasters, audiences, and artists.


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