Radio’s Royalty Rumble

Congress is considering a bill that would require radio stations to pay artists a royalty every time one of their songs is played but some radio station owners claim it could bankrupt them.

The debate about performer royalties has been ongoing for decades and previous attempts on Capitol Hill were thwarted by a lobby group headed by the National Association of Broadcasters. The NAB says artists and record labels are already compensated through record and concert ticket sales thanks to radio play.

However, music industry reps along with the musicFIRST Coalition think this time around will be different now that satellite and Internet radio and cable music channels pay performer royalties. And RIAA Chairman Mitch Bainsol is said to be in the fight for the long haul.

The bill reportedly has the support of the Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., and is scheduled for final revisions this month before the House possibly takes over the debate.

Meanwhile, owners of small stations are worried that if the bill passes, they could be put out of business.

Randy Gravley, co-owner of five small radio stations in northern Georgia, said his stations can’t afford to pay out another $5,000 per year each in addition to about $32,000 already paid yearly to songwriters and publishers.

“We’re not trying to take away anything from anybody, we’re just trying to stay in business,” Gravley said.