Editor’s Preface: The following letter was written by Iowa small market broadcaster Tony Coloff. He shared it with SMRN as part of his editorial comment regarding a pro-radio-royalties article by U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler which recently appeared in The Hill. See the Nadler piece in our June 9-16 issue; Coloff’s commentary is in our June 23 issue.
November 13, 2015
The Honorable Joni Ernst, U. S. Senator—Iowa
Senator Joni Ernst:
Thank you for your reply on October 21, 2015, regarding S. Con. Res. 4, the Local Radio Freedom Act. I understand your point that Senators and Representatives are being told by others that if satellite and internet radio stations have to pay recording artists to play their songs, local radio stations should pay recording artists as well.
In spite of that, I would ask you to sign on as a co-sponsor of S. Con. Res. 4, the Local Radio Freedom Act. There are a multitude of reasons to support the Local Radio Freedom Act. For brevity sake, I will focus on the point you made: the financial aspect of paying recording artists to play their songs. Allow me to explain the main reason to oppose a performance tax:
First: there is a 180 degree difference between “satellite and internet radio stations”(which are not really radio stations at all)(satellite is a national pay audio distribution service)(internet is a non-over the-air non-regulated online audio distribution service); and their difference with the 14,000 local and live LOCAL FCC licensed over-the-air radio stations that serve communities large and small in Iowa and across the U.S., and are subject to heavy government regulation. Call on me if you need details.
Second And More Important: RECORDING ARTISTS ARE ALREADY BEING PAID BY LOCAL RADIO STATIONS Every time a song is played on local radio, the artist does not have to pay for commercial promotion time. Every other business that advertises their product on local radio, pays the commercial charge to promote their product, ALL, EXCEPT, recording artists and record labels. Local radio is under an FCC rules mandate to be fair to all artists, and play artists music on an “Artistic Merit” basis FOR FREE. That’s right, local stations do not get paid for their public commercial exposure of songs; they cannot charge and have to provide FREE PROMOTION. This FREE PROMOTION collectively in the US is a free gift to artists totaling $2.4 BILLION dollars in FREE PROMOTION every year. And the local station gets nothing for it. KIOW’s normal charge for a 60 second commercial is $20.00.
Recording artists want to be rich and famous. We receive about 200 advance copies of songs from artists EVERY MONTH, even at our small Iowa station, asking that we play their song on the radio. For example, last year, Tracy Skretta of Charles City, personally brought his advance promotional copy of his songs in to KIOW. He didn’t ask, how much I was going to pay him to play his songs. He wanted me to play his songs on local radio FOR FREE so he could be rich and famous Another example, Dean Burk, formerly of Garner and Mason City, recently brought a song he wrote and produced, titled “Lie To Me One More Time”. I have the CD right in my hand right now. He had Rosalia Dillar write the lyrics, had David Fuentes sing the song and record it, and personally brought it in. He didn’t ask, how much I was going to pay him to play his song. He wanted me to play his song on local radio FOR FREE so he could sell copies and also get songwriter and composer fees.
Everytime a song is played on local radio, a songwriter, and/or composer, and/or record label, and/or songwriter-artist, gets paid thousands of dollars. Every local radio station that plays songs, pays enormous music licensing fees to ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC, who in turn is supposed to compensate their artists. Every time a song is played on local radio, songs SELL, and artists get paid for the music they sell. Some songs sell millions of copies and rake in millions of dollars.
An artist that develops a following through constant radio artist talk, promotion, interviews and airplay, is paid by being able to sell tickets to their concerts, artist t-shirts and merchandise and more songs.
KIOW pays artists streaming fees to stream our radio content 100% on air and also 100% simulcast on the internet on line. This money goes to artists
And on numerous occasions, both honest record label executives and honest artists have recognized the promotional value of free to the artists, local radio airplay. I have attached to this letter, recent statements of praise and gratitude by artists and record label executives, in appreciation for the FREE PROMOTION that local radio has provided to make them rich and famous.
So you can see that when “others” contend that “if satellite and internet stations have to pay recording artists to play their songs, local radio stations should as well,” these “others” are running a scam job on our Iowa Senators and Representatives. And this scam is being recognized by 218 house members and 23 senators, as they have signed on to cosponsor the Local Radio Freedom Act. And I respectfully ask Senator Joni Ernst to join the growing number of Senators to join in cosponsoring the Local Radio freedom Act. Please call on me if you have questions, or need more information on any point above.