Banned From Radio?

An artist organization alleges several radio stations are refusing to play a song by a really big band. Can you guess which band that might be?

The musicFIRST Coalition has filed a complaint with the FCC claiming some radio stations have yanked a top-selling unidentified band’s new single due to the group’s lead singer speaking in favor of radio stations paying royalties to artists and labels.

Not familiar with musicFIRST? Then you haven’t been keeping up on the latest royalty issue pitting recording artists and their labels against the radio industry. The coalition is campaigning Congress to reconsider prior legislative decisions allowing radio stations to play music without paying royalties to artists and record companies.

For almost as long as radio has played music, Congress has taken the position that the music industry and radio have a quid pro quo arrangement of sorts, with radio giving artists promotional exposure by playing their music in exchange for labels giving music to radio stations to play.

It’s kind of a chicken & egg thing with radio stations claiming artists need the exposure airplay provides, while labels and artists accuse radio of getting rich from playing music without paying for it.

But times change, especially in the music biz. With Internet and satellite radio outlets already paying royalties to artists and record companies, musicFIRST has been trying to apply that same principle to terrestrial radio. In May the House Judiciary Committee approved the Performance Rights Act (H.R. 848) and now it’s up to the House to vote on the issue.

Of course, the radio industry isn’t all that keen on paying money for playing music. The National Association of Broadcasters says it amounts to a tax on radio stations that would cost thousands their jobs.

But back to that group radio has supposedly refused to play. In its filing with the FCC, the musicFIRST Coalition claims stations have dropped the band’s record in retribution for the group’s lead singer publicly supporting the Performance Rights Act, although no one is going on record as to which group it is.

However, many media outlets are pointing at U2, mostly because Bono issued a statement in April supporting musicFIRST’s efforts to make radio pay for playing music. After all, U2 is undeniably one of the biggest bands in the world, and musicFIRST did describe the band in its filing with the FCC as “top selling.”

Photo: AP Photo
Grammy Awards, Staples Center, Los Angeles, Calif.

The filing also alleges other artists supporting the Performance Rights Act have been unfairly treated by stations in Florida, Delaware and Texas, and accused the broadcast outlets of putting their own financial interests above their obligations to serve the public, and asks the FCC to investigate.

In its filing. musicFIRST also accuses a Delaware station of boycotting for an entire month all artists involved with the coalition. It also alleges a Texas radio station pressured an artist before an interview to go on the air and state the Performance Rights Act would cripple radio stations.

Click here for the musicFIRST Web site.

Click here for the National Association of Broadcasters Web site.