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musicFIRST FCC Petition Gains Broad Support September 12, 2009

Posted by David W. King in Uncategorized.
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A broad range of organizations, including the Property Rights Alliance, the National Consumers League, Free Press, the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFL-CIO), the Parents Television Council, The Recording Academy, the Music Managers Forum, the Institute for Policy Innovation, the American Association of Independent Music, and individual music managers have filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in support of the musicFIRST Coalition’s request that the FCC investigate radio broadcasters.

In comparison, only one organization not aligned with the broadcasting industry filed comments in support of broadcasters.

musicFIRST’s request to the commission details how radio stations across the country refuse to air musicFIRST ads, threaten artists who support the effort to create a fair performance right on radio and continue to run misleading ads produced by the National Association of Broadcasters — all in an effort to further their own private commercial interests at the expense of their public interest obligations.

musicFIRST asked the FCC to investigate these activities. musicFIRST also encouraged the FCC to consider reducing the radio broadcast license term, currently seven years, to hold broadcasters accountable for violations of their public interest obligations.

“We are grateful to have broad-based support from consumer, property rights and media advocacy organizations and the music community for an investigation of radio,” Bendall said.

“Broadcasters enjoy broad First Amendment rights, but they can’t punish artists for exercising their First Amendment rights, too.”

Broadcasters are taking these actions solely to further their own economic interests. It cannot be in the public interest for broadcasters to use a public resource in this manner.”

Irony was a pointed theme in comments filed by The Property Rights Alliance. The group told the commission that it supports the Performance Rights Act and then says about radio’s efforts to silence artists, “under current law, broadcasters should not boycott artists for joining a coalition, especially given the fact they are currently using the artists’ music for free.”

Free Press notes that “broadcasters are licensed to operate in the public interest – not pure self interest.”

“We respect a broadcaster’s right to oppose the Performance Rights Act. But we cannot tolerate broadcasters’ use of the public airwaves to stifle debate, threaten artists and musicians and undermine the public interest in pursuit of their narrow, private business interests.”

RoyaltyShare Bolsters Royalty Services for Canadian Labels September 12, 2009

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RoyaltyShare, a premier provider of technology solutions to the entertainment industry, announced that its Digital Advantage service now features full support for Canadian record labels to process mechanical royalties owed to the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency (CMRRA) and Canadian based publishers. With the addition of Canadian mechanical reporting, the Digital Advantage service now supports all of a Canadian label’s royalty reporting needs while providing detailed analytics to support their business.

As the primary royalty collection agency in Canada, CMRRA collects and distributes mechanical royalties to the vast majority of music copyright owners doing business in Canada.

“RoyaltyShare’s enhancements to support Canadian mechanical royalty needs, including the use of CMRRA’s electronic reporting format, represent a positive development for labels that must report royalties to CMPRA under the MLA,” said David A. Basskin, president of CMRRA. RoyaltyShare Digital Advantage is industry-first software as a service for aggregating and monitoring a record label’s sales data and calculating the royalties owed to artists, record producers and music publishers. The offering enables record labels and music distributors to consolidate, manage and interpret royalty data from digital, physical and video revenue streams. After uploading sales files into the Digital Advantage web based application, the process of managing and generating both artist and mechanical royalties are streamlined for customers.

The RoyaltyShare Digital Advantage service requires no investment in software, hardware, maintenance or upgrades. Built from the ground up to manage the complexities of the digital world, the Digital Advantage platform automates sales file management from digital services and provides records labels with unprecedented insight into their digital business.

FCC Probes Corporate Radio’s Misdeeds September 12, 2009

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The Federal Communications Commission has received comments on a petition filed by the musicFIRST Coalition.

The petition details how radio stations across the country refuse to air musicFIRST ads, threaten artists who support the effort to create a fair performance right on radio and continue to run misleading ads produced by the National Association of Broadcasters – all in an effort to further their own private commercial interests at the expense of their public interest obligations.

Comments to be filed by the Music Managers Forum, a member of musicFIRST, include an e-mail sent by college radio station to WICB in Ithaca, New York, to Aimee Mann’s online message board. “The e-mail is clear,” said Jennifer Bendall, executive director of the musicFIRST Coalition. “WICB dropped Aimee Mann because she supports the effort to create a fair performance right on radio.”

“Like other radio stations, WICB dropped Aimee Mann and ‘any other musicFIRST supporters.’ It is a sad day when a licensed radio station affiliated with a major college punishes artists for exercising their First Amendment Rights.”

Under the provisions of the Performance Rights Act, college and other non-commercial radio stations will pay just $500 or $1,000 a year to clear the performance rights for all the music they use.

“Broadcasters enjoy broad First Amendment rights,” Bendall said, “but they can’t punish artists for exercising their First Amendment rights, too. It’s about radio’s bottom line.”

Radio stations must ensure that their private interests, including their private financial interests, do not interfere with their obligation to serve the public. According to the musicFIRST filing, one major radio group dropped a top selling artist’s record after he spoke in support of performance rights legislation. The program director of a Florida radio station declined to add an artist’s recordings to his station’s playlist because the artist is listed as a member of the musicFIRST Coalition. musicFIRST is asking the FCC find that the stations have violated their public interest obligations and consider the broadcasters’ malfeasance in connection with their license renewal.

“We respect a broadcaster’s right to oppose the Performance Rights Act. AM and FM music radio stations earn billions in advertising revenue every year without compensating the artists and musicians who bring music to life and listeners ears to the radio dial. Every other radio platform – internet radio, satellite radio and cable TV music channels – pay a fair performance royalty. And AM and FM music radio stations that stream their over-the-air signal online pay a fair performance royalty for the online program.”

Artists and musicians also enjoy a radio performance right in almost every other country in the world. Countries without a radio performance right include China, Iran, North Korea, Rwanda and the U.S.