Blogging Til I Win a Grammy: Day 362

Post #20: ‘THOUGHTS OF AN INDIE ARTIST ON THE RADIO TAX BILL’ of ANNIE B.’s D.I.Y. MAGAZINE
“I promise to post blogs here, sharing some daily activities & the work I do to achieve my career goals, and when I do win that Grammy, YOU can say you followed me all the way! I also hope to give inspiration, information, & advice to indie artists, and I hope you take a little something away with you when you read my posts, whether or not you are yourself an artist!”

If you ever have ANYTHING you’d like to respond to in my blog, PLEASE e-mail me at: RespondToAnniesBlog at gmail dot com
THANKS!!!

Day 362
You’ve heard the commercial, right? Talking about how everyone wants a new bailout and this is one that’s going to only put money into the pockets of “people who don’t need it… big record companies, most of which are overseas.”

Hopefully you have at least heard about the Radio Performance Tax bill going through Congress right now, and most of your corporate radio stations & conservative groups are saying, “VOTE NO – it will only put more money into the pockets of big record labels, most of which are overseas”

Well, I am here to say “VOTE YES” and I will tell you why I feel that way about it, as an indie artist, and as someone who has worked for an independent radio promoter myself in Los Angeles for 5 years.

First off, let’s take a look at the bill.
Here is the summary of the bill:

S.379
Title: A bill to provide fair compensation to artists for use of their sound recordings.
SUMMARY AS OF:
2/4/2009–Introduced.

Performance Rights Act – Amends federal copyright law to: (1) grant performers of sound recordings equal rights to compensation from terrestrial broadcasters; and (2) modify the circumstances under which the public performance of a sound recording is subject to statutory licensing.

Establishes a flat annual fee in lieu of payment of royalties for individual terrestrial broadcast stations with gross revenues of less than $1.25 million and for noncommercial, public broadcast stations. Grants: (1) an exemption from royalty payments for broadcasts of religious services and for incidental uses of musical sound recordings; and (2) terrestrial broadcast stations that make limited feature uses of sound recordings a per program license option.

Prohibits anything in this Act from adversely affecting the public performance rights or royalties payable to songwriters or copyright owners of musical works.

And here is a .PDF file link to the 21-page Text of Legislation:
http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_bills&docid=f:s379rs.txt.pdf

Well, one of the first comments I got on this is from my fried, Tim, lead singer of a great indie band from Madison called Government Zero, he said:
“The problem is that they won’t be exempt. Apparently this threatens to bankrupt small stations. Then again, it might get stations to play more local stuff. But let’s not hold our breaths. :)”

If you look at the PDF file, you’ll see that the stations making $50K or less a year pay an annual fee of $100, and it goes in increments… the stations who make $500K pay an annual fee of $5,000.
Start reading this thing on page 7 and you’ll see the numbers in a few pages… here it is again…
http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_bills&docid=f:s379rs.txt.pdf

Well, let’s just start by saying: YOU, the listener, won’t get taxed. So, I am not so sure it’s a bad idea, unless you support the huge radio conglomerates who will get hit the hardest. I am hoping it will be a vehicle for the little radio stations who actually play local artists, to having the playing field leveled a little. Indeed, they will have a small fee to pay, relatively small compared to the royalties the big stations will have to pay. The big stations will probably end up changing formats, becoming even more unpleasant to listen to (playing more of the same 15 songs on the radio, playing more commercials, maybe going down to 10 songs?) losing more & more listeners every day, and eventually having to go off the air. That would be fine with me!

The bad thing is that in the interim, the local businesses will suffer by paying for it (due to higher advertising rates on these big stations), but there are other ways to reach the local public, and hopefully local businesses are ahead of the curve and thinking along those lines right now. Since the internet, marketing can be done for a FRACTION of the price… and I’ve been doing it for FREE for some time now. Bands started a great trend by showing they could sell out shows by building a huge list of friends on MySpace. Social networking is really the way to go if you are paying attention, people. Now, local businesses are turning to Facebook and other networking sites and I think it’s totally cool.

Getting back to the stations: If Clear Channel, Entercom, Bonneville, and all their compadres had to close down or change formats, then that’s fine with me. They are in bed with the labels. The labels want this tax. They should have consulted with their bed buddies first, but we all know that big labels are in trouble and that’s just fine with me. Looks like they have to take what they can and get a divorce before the radio stations come up with some way to get their money back!

Whatever happened to stories like The Coal Miner’s Daughter, who drove around the country with her record and knocked on the doors of the radio stations and once she got them to play it, people loved it? These days, you have a little brother who is cute and can barely play guitar and you have an uncle who works at a big record label and they say, “You two could put out a record and make us millions” and that’s exactly what happens… they hire a producer to basically write all the songs and they’re off to take over the world. I won’t mention what band this is, because you might like them and then get mad at me for dissing them, but do your research on these new bands out there and you’ll find out that it’s half of them! You should also take a look at the liner notes on the CD and see who recorded the album. I can think of one huge major-label band in particular where the only person who you are listening to on the CD (or on the radio, for that matter,) is the lead singer… all the other musicians were replaced on the CD for hired studio cats. But the band members who are not good enough to be on the record are the ones who go out on tour. And we wonder why some of these major-label bands sound like shit live.

Thank Goodness though, that the whole industry has been changing… since the internet came around and made distribution of records almost completely dispensable… among other things like artists having the ability to record their own music or at least have the ability to pay for it at a good, local studio. Things are changing, and I think it’s all moving towards being a better situation for the indies. So, hey, support your local bands! Support them by buying their CDs, going to their shows, buying their Tshirts, hats, and buttons! When you see that sign that says “THINK LOCAL, BUY LOCAL” don’t just limit it to the locally-owned restaurant, clothing store, or produce grower.

How about that cool 3/50 Project? You don’t know about it? Well, check out this major coolness: http://www.the350project.net/home.html

Yeah, pick 3 local businesses to spend $50 a month at, instead of Wal-Mart (although I am guessing that anyone who’s reading my blog does not shop there), Applebee’s, and Kinko’s, go to the local clothing/gift store (better yet, the cool second-hand store with amazing vintage styles at a GREAT price!), the locally-owned restaurant around the corner, (I’m a HUGE fan of Cafe Centraal on KK in Bay View) and Clark Graphics on Oakland. You can DO IT! And you feel good about it!!!

OK, here’s my 3/50 proposal for music fans: Look at your music collection right now… your iPod, your CD collection, your record collection, For every 50 CDs you own that are from bands that are NOT local, or for every 50 songs you have in your iPod that are not local, buy at least 3 CDs or song downloads from local bands today. Hell, you can buy 3 of the same CDs from your favorite local band and give them away as St. Patty’s Day presents for all the Irish drunks (just kidding!), birthday presents, Christmas presents, JUST DO IT! Then, start working towards making the ratio closer to 3/5, instead of 3/50. I know it will be hard to get the radio all the way up to 3/5, but work on it! You’d be surprised how much AMAZING local talent there is out there.

Indeed, I have digressed again.

Hopefully, the locally-owned radio stations will not suffer… THEY will hopefully be the ones to benefit, since they won’t have to increase their advertising rates like the Clear Channels will have to. Local businesses will stop buying ads on the Clear Channel stations since they can’t afford those rates anymore, and they’ll buy their ads on the local stations!!! Let’s put that out there! Join me on this, people!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

NOW, the OTHER thing I didn’t even mention is that this tax is actually supposed to go to the radio stations to be paid AS ROYALTIES… to who? WHO gets paid royalties??? THE ARTISTS!!! Ok, WHAT IS WRONG WITH THAT????? Do you realize that music is the ONLY art you can enjoy for FREE because there is a thing called the radio, providing you songs for FREE? How many of us as teenagers recorded the songs we liked on the radio on tapes so we didn’t have to go out & buy the record? Can you get a sculpture and enjoy it in your own home for FREE? How about a painting? How about a live theater production… are those usually free??? OK, TV is “free” to a certain extent, but we all know how much those actors on TV make!!!!!!

Honestly, I am not really sure that the artists will be collecting all that money (don’t trust record labels unless your mom runs it), but that’s why I don’t choose that as my reason to VOTE YES for the “RADIO TAX” BILL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Tell your Congressmen!!!!!!!!! Level the playing field for locally-owned & community stations! My hope is that the result will be: Something will HAVE TO HAPPEN to how you learn about new music. Lots of you people right now out there learn about new bands because you hear them on the “Clear Channels”… The new bands who are supported by big labels. They DON’T need your help. Most of them aren’t bona fide artists anyway. They’re manufactured by the labels. We’ve already had that conversation.

Tell your Congressmen to vote YES ON THE PERFORMANCE TAX and help artists get paid the royalties they deserve. (The “artists” on the radio who are manufactured won’t see any of that money anyway, trust me on that one. The record contracts they sign are not good for them.)

Tell your Congressmen to vote YES ON THE PERFORMANCE TAX and watch the Clear Channels raise their advertising rates, passing that expense on to the buyers, who will start buying elsewhere.

Tell your Congressmen to vote YES ON THE PERFORMANCE TAX and watch local businesses buy less ads on the Clear Channels and more ads on the locally-owned stations and sponsoring more of the community stations like 88.9

Tell your Congressmen to vote YES ON THE PERFORMANCE TAX and take the first step in changing things around here from a controlling class of the wealthy to more of a democracy. This is ONE AREA where we still have control people… WE STILL GET TO CHOOSE which radio stations we listen to. But because the powerful record labels have been controlling what’s ON the stations, they are actually shooting themselves in the foot by taxing the vehicle by which they control us: The radio stations. I AM TELLING YOU, LET THEM DO IT… VOTE YES!!!!!

(Why do you think it’s only the big “Clear Channels” airing those commercials that “Say NO to the tax”?????? Do the math, people!!!!!!)

(They want to expose us to only THEIR CRAP on the free radio stations, and then they put their own [yes, they are in bed together, people] radio stations out of business? It’s wonderful!!!!!!!!!!! The result will inevitably be more cool music for us, less major-label crap for everyone!)

Tell your Congressmen to vote YES ON THE PERFORMANCE TAX and watch the Clear Channels slowly suffer, few will close down, some will change formats, and yes, lots will survive and SUCK even more. (It’s okay if they still exist. Let the stupid people continue to listen.)

Tell your Congressmen to vote YES ON THE PERFORMANCE TAX and join smart listeners as we all stop listening to Clear Channel, moving to the 88.9s of the world, the college stations, and the locally-owned commercial stations, who will soon be playing less music from big major labels (they don’t want to be taxed for playing those songs from those bands), and more LOCAL MUSIC.

Tell your Congressmen to vote YES ON THE PERFORMANCE TAX!

THINK LOCAL! BUY LOCAL!

WOO-HOO!

As for the tasks I am doing this week: I’m adding this to my schedule: Submitting to at least one new venue every day. If it’s just an e-mail, or mailing a whole press kit, I promise to submit to a new venue every day, whether it’s for a solo/acoustic act, or for Sparklepussy The Midwest Surfing Cat… One A Day!!!

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