Song Song Blue

“I don’t have much money but boy if I did
I’d buy a big house where we both could live” – Elton John

Bloggers aren’t the only ones struggling to find an answer to the paid content riddle. Musicians and their labels are also looking for new sources of revenue. And they have friends in government doing their bidding.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Congress is considering legislation that would force radio companies to pay royalties of as much as $500 million a year to record labels and artists whose music they play. Radio already pays about that same amount in royalties to songwriters and music publishers.
In response, the National Association of Broadcasters is running the following radio spot in Washington, DC.

“Once upon a time, the Record Label Fat Cat gorged on rich, tasty profits he got from music sales through radio. The radio played the music. The people bought the music. And the Fat Cat got fatter and fatter. At least, he did, until he ate up all his profits. Now he wants to tax the radio to see if he can taste a few more profits, by biting the hand that feeds him.
“But, that’s not so good for radio. It’s even worse for music and listeners. And it’s not a very happy ending to the story. The Record Label Fat Cat is fat enough. Let’s take the Performance Tax off his plate. If you want the real story of the Performance Tax, go to
“Don’t feed the Fat Cat.”

“I really want the artist to understand radio has been paying,” says Leslie Fram, program director of rock station WRXP in New York. “We are more than just a jukebox. We devote a lot of time to marketing artists.” In other words, every time a song gets played on the radio, it’s a free ad placement for the band and the label. When you see the transaction from that angle, the artists and labels really ought to pay radio to play their songs, not the other way around.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.