By Brian M. Howle
Some Of Washington’s Weasels Are Trying To Sell Out Music Radio Stations, Artists To Big Record Companies
In bringing you this important story, I find myself firmly between two facts: One puts me in the happy position of assuring all of you this issue has absolutely no basis in political party affiliation; the other regretfully confirms that there are nefarious powers out there who will stoop to the lowest common denominator in finding new ways to screw us all in the name of “revenue enhancement”.
So here’s the skinny on the latest attempt by the corporate whores (and their congressional pimps) who are trying to destroy yet another American freedom – and industry – as provided to us by the National Association of Broadcasters:
For more than 80 years, radio and the recording industry have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship: free play for free promotion. And it works. It’s a relationship that has sustained businesses on both sides.
In fact, radio’s free promotion of artists translates to as much as $2.4 billion annually in music sales for record labels and artists. And this doesn’t even include the enormous revenues they receive from concerts and merchandising.
But the labels–like many businesses–are struggling in this economy. They have failed to adapt to the digital age, and find their business model is broken. And now they want to impose a fee called a performance tax on local radio stations to subsidize their losses.
A performance tax would threaten the local radio stations that communities depend on. It would financially hamstring stations, stifle new artists and harm the listening public who rely on free local radio.
In short, the money generated from the performance tax would flow out of your community and into the pockets of the major record labels – and three out of the four are foreign-owned. The record labels would like for you to think this is all about compensating the artists, but in truth the record labels would get at least 50 percent of the proceeds from a tax on local radio.
If you’re one of the 235 million people who listen to radio each week, a tax could reduce the variety of music radio stations play, and all but eliminate the possibility of new artists breaking onto the scene. The tax could particularly affect smaller, minority-owned stations, some of which may have to switch to a talk-only format or shut down entirely.
It also affects your community. Radio stations are major contributors to public service – generating $6 billion in public service annually, providing vital news and community information and free airtime to help local charities. If a tax were imposed, stations’ critical community service efforts could be reduced.
And, worst of all, if you’re one of the 106,000 Americans employed by local radio, your job could be in jeopardy. In these troubling economic times, the last thing local radio needs is to be hit with a tax that some analysts estimate could be $2-7 billion annually.
Congress has continually recognized that local radio is different from other musical platforms and should not be subject to a performance tax. Local radio is free, so everyone, regardless of income, can have access to it. Local radio also has to fulfill certain public service obligations that other platforms do not. And importantly, the free music that radio plays provides free promotion to the record labels and artists – up to $2.4 billion annually.
There are currently two bills pending in Congress that would levy a performance tax on local radio – H.R.848, sponsored by Rep. John Conyers (MI-14) and S.379, sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (VT). Your members of Congress need to hear that you strongly oppose these bills.
Additionally, anti-performance tax resolutions have been introduced in the House and Senate in support of local radio. In the Senate, Sens. Blanche Lincoln (AR) and John Barrasso (WY) introduced S. Con. Res. 14, and in the House, Reps. Gene Green (TX-29) and Mike Conaway (TX-11) introduced H. Con. Res. 49. Both are known as the Local Radio Freedom Act. Many members of Congress already support local radio and resolutions against the performance tax. Others still need to hear your voice.
Take Action Now!
We need your help! Support local radio by taking action against legislation that could kill local radio as you know it. The performance tax could bankrupt local radio stations and give giant foreign-owned record companies a bailout. It’s a bad idea that will happen unless you speak out against it.
Visit The “Stop The Radio Tax” Website
Simply go to http://www.noperformancetax.org and you will find all the links and information you need. Sign up now and take a stand in support of local radio! By signing up, you’ll have the opportunity to join thousands of people from across the country who are ready to fight the performance tax.
Tell A Friend
Send an email to your friends about the performance tax issue, letting them know what they can do.
Post A Facebook Status Update/Tweet This
Use your own social networking page to spread the word. Simply update your status on Facebook and Twitter with messages related to the campaign. Your message should be unique, but can follow the examples below.
Post this message to your Facebook:
STOP THE RADIO TAX. The performance tax is a bad idea that would hurt [insert radio station name]. If you enjoy listening, help us take action against this at noperformancetax.org.
Tweet this Message:
[Insert radio station name] needs help. Congress is killing the radio star. Tell them no. #stoptheradiotax http://bit.ly/wkO89
Write A Letter To The Editor
Write a letter to the editor or longer guest column to voice your opinion on why a performance tax is a bad idea.
Personalize the letter, and let the editor know why radio is important to you and your community. Encourage readers to take action. Below is a sample letter:
The proposed performance tax on radio stations could cripple local radio, hurt the listening public, and silence up-and-coming artists – all while big record companies get a bailout.
Radio has given so much to the music industry, launching the careers of many of the artists that we’ve come to love. Radio also plays a critical role during emergencies, informs us about what’s going on in our neighborhoods, supports local charities and nonprofit organizations and provides jobs for our community.
Why impose a tax that could bankrupt our local radio stations just to help foreign-owned record companies recover from their own business mistakes?
It doesn’t make sense. Congress should realize that a performance tax is a bad idea.
The website contains more information to help you understand all of the facts of this incredibly arrogant and moronic attempt to literally ruin free music radio as we know it, along with destroying the livelihoods of countless tens of thousands of folks in radio, as well as the musicians who are the core creative force for everything involved in producing the music we all enjoy and treasure as one of the inalienable rights guaranteed to us by the framers of the United States Constitution.