Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A New Idea for the Royality Mess

The debate continues with Sound Exchange on radio stations paying royalties for the music we play to the record companies with the thought that perhaps some of these funds would go to the musicians in the performance. Of course the real 'exchange' here for many years has been that exposure radio brings far outweighs the royalty potential for all involved and many a musician and record company has made millions from the exposure. Now that the business model centered on the old school distribution of CDs and Albums is dying a fast death the record companies have clung to the old school and are tying to hang on by taxing radio.

Even though there are tons of new media outlets and streaming options Radio still remains a strong exposure vehicle for music. Just look at the remarks from the judges on American Idol. All have talked about 'hearing the performers on the radio' when gushing about their latest performance on stage. Still, the debate rages on, mostly from older musicians who haven't turned out a big song in ages and want to get more from their 'glory days' since we still play their catalog.

Sound Exchange has been pulling artists together and forcing the issue with the Congress and the NAB has been lobbying to continue the exemption. Meanwhile we sit back and wait. But, could we do something?

How about this idea:

Most of the 'force' from the Sound Exchange side comes from the record companies and their hold on the rights of the performance. Yet, we now live in a music world where the record companies no longer control distribution and no longer have the promo machines they once had to really break new artists. We all know that the next wave of new artists are more likely to come from social networks, You Tube videos, and other independent sources outside the record companies.

How about setting up an industry wide 'emerging artists' program. The program would offer exposure of any independent artist to the programmers, music directors, and DJs at commercial radio stations. The artists would be able to post their songs, radio would be able to listen to them, watch charts on them, and even chat with each other. The artists would simply agree to let radio expose their music and performance for free. Radio would pledge a percentage of their new adds to come from the emerging artists and link our audience to them on the web site - perhaps through My Space. There they can distribute the songs and build their fan base.

To fund it? How about taking the funds we were sending to Radio and Records and allocating them to this idea. I bet it would be enough to pay for a few out of work Radio and Record staffers to mind the store here and start to build a business out of it. As the site grows there could be other advertising options - how about Guitar Center??

At the least it would send a message to the Sound Exchange world that there is another way for music to get exposed on radio without their old world business model. It would also open the floodgates for new artists to build their business model on a new world of distribution that is already built and rolling - it just needs an organized way to promote itself.

If any of you folks from Radio and Records want to get started - be happy to help you brainstorm. Just reach out.

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