Music's Worth Depends on Who Is Asked
I'm going to get the caveat out of the way immediately. I believe musicians should be paid for radio airplay but only after they've reached a level of being an audience draw.
Written here many times is the theory that a new artist seeking exposure has nothing to lose through radio airplay - and all to gain. Conversely, the radio station playing a new artist has everything to lose and nothing to gain, unless the song turns into that one-in-a-thousand song that resonates with consumers.
"There are two sides to this 'pay me if you play me' chant, though. 1) From the artist who believes every song they produce has value ... 2) From the radio station exec who believes they deliver promotional value to the artist...."
There are two sides to this "pay me if you play me" chant. 1) From the artist who believes every song they produce has value, you're working off delusions; 2) From the radio station exec who believes they deliver promotional value to the artist, if true then why are radio playlists so short? Answer: It's to draw audience with tunes they want to hear.
I'm tired of hearing broadcast radio stations complain about having to pay performance royalties to artists.
Every civilized country in the world follows that schema. The United States' refusal to fall in line costs artists millions of dollars in reciprocation from countries that already pay.
For a radio station to claim it delivers "promotional value" in lieu of performance royalty when it has a playlist of 300 songs - and adds a song a week to its rotation - is the height of being disengenuous. The reason only 300 songs appear on a playlist is because the station knows that's why people tune in.
If you take this idea one step farther, the radio station demands advertisers pay to reach the audience it built (by using popular songs which draw that audience in). Radio needs to get over its thought that in today's world it is a music discovery vehicle. It is a music redundancy vehicle at best, with an occasional introduction to new artists.
Accepting the above about radio doing nothing for independent artists, this concept then falls into two camps for the artists: 1) new artists seeking exposure; 2) established artists who do the most screaming for a bigger cut of performance royalty pie. The former has no grounds for demanding money as they stand to benefit far more than a radio station playing their song (which causes tune-out for the station with that part of the audience not liking the new music). The latter group - established artists - have the economics of music confused with the degree of narcissism they possess.
Established artists should be paid, but how much is playing their song for one person worth? This is where artists let the performance royalty issue get out of line with reality.
(Go here to read a guesstimate of
what a single spin of a song is worth, for a one-person audience.)
We need some sanity from both sides of the Performance Royalty issue.
Radio must quit the rhetoric that its sole purpose is to benefit the artist. That's BS, and everyone knows it. Artists must stop insisting that everything they produce has value. Even at the top level, musicians produce some garbage.
New artists need to count on a long journey of trying to make it go, in poverty.
The radio community - online and off - must come to the realization it's become an homogenized audio platform where consumers are scattered. Radio's worth as a promotional vehicle is diminished.
Both sides need to get back to producing what they create for the love of doing so. If it's your destiny to make it big, you will. I'm just asking that both sides come back to earth and join those in the modern digital world.
Today's indie introduction is to...
When an artist has the power to please they should be given a chance to be heard.
Give The Vox's "Morbid Beez" a listen
Add it to your playlist, free!