Want to kill HD Radio?

The Copyright Royalty Board feels that the free pass that terrestrial radio gets on performance royalties needs to end. I happen to agree.

Internet radio stations, Sirius, XM, Muzak, Dish Network (Sirius), DirecTV (XM) and cable providers ALL pay royalties to air music. Every bar, restaurant and diner that you go in to that plays music pays royalties. Every store that you shop in that plays music pays royalties for that music. As it should be.

AM and FM radio stations don’t. Under an arcane law from like the 50’s terrestrial radio stations are exempt from these royalties because of the “promotional value” these stations provide for music.

NAB (The National Association of Broadcasters) is opposed to the idea of terrestrial radio stations paying royalties to the record industry. Naturally, they want to protect the BILLIONS of dollars in profits that their members make every year on the music that they play and kill this “tax”. Tax? That’s what they call it. Like the Federal Government would be collecting this money.

It’s the greatest free pass that this country has ever given to a single industry. Take the product of another company and use it as you will. Collect all of the money that you possibly can and keep it. Don’t send any of it to the creator of the product that you present to the people. And they do. Radio companies in this country make BILLIONS of dollars EVERY year.

One of the other big talking points for NAB is that this “tax” money will be sent to the foreign owned record labels and it is just a money grab by the greedy music industry. Yeah, bingo dickhead. That’s exactly what it is but what does that have to do with ANYTHING? It is their product and in the name of “promotion” your members should get that product for free?

There are like 14,000 radio stations in this country. I don’t know what their listener total would be. I do know that there are over 1,500,000 Internet radio stations from around the world available to listeners in this country. Sirius and XM combined have about 16,000,000 subscribers. Dish and D*TV combined have about 35,000,000 subscribers all with access to a wide variety of music channels. There has to be well over 100,000,000 cable subscribers that have access to Music Choice with a wide variety of music channels. Where do you think that most people hear music?

What does this have to do with killing HD Radio? Well, HD Radio stations will not remain ad free forever. Commercial radio stations are only in business to sell ads and the ad free period will end for HD Radio at some point in the near future.

Let’s say that  radio companies have to start paying royalties on the music that they play. Even if it is a flat percentage of all revenue like other outlets are going to be charged, HD Radio streams would do nothing more than serve to drive up royalty payments for NAB members. The overwhelming majority of terrestrial listeners ARE NOT listening to HD Radio. Ads on HD Radio will be dirt cheap for a very long time. The HD streams may not be able to cover royalty on music from ad revenues.

Do you think that Clear Channel will continue to pump money in to HD Radio equipment, expanding services and coverage if the payoff in the end is an INCREASE in copyright royalties and nothing more? I don’t.

Want to make HD Radio go away? Contact your Congressman and tell them that you fully support the record labels and that you think that terrestrial radio stations SHOULD pay royalties for the music that they play.

1. It’s fair to the other music outlets that don’t get a free pass.
2. It’s fair to the labels.
3. It’s fair to the artists.
4. It’s probably the one sure, quick way to pull the plug on HD Radio.


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I’m a 40 something early adopter of all things technology. I was first in line to buy my Verizon Droid AND my Apple iPad. I don’t hate your phone, tablet or computer choice, but I have an opinion about it. Aside from my family, the only thing that I love more than a new gadget is fly fishing and going to the ballpark. I blog from time to time about both.

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