Big changes could be on the horizon for music radio.
Broadcasters in the United States have historically been exempt from paying performance royalties for the music they air, but now some musicians and their record labels are saying, “No more. If you play us, pay us.”
The Fair Play, Fair Pay Act of 2015 comes to Congress at a time when the bottom has fallen out of the recorded music industry, and content creators are looking to get paid any way they can.
NPR has not taken a public position on the question, but in April it joined with the likes of iHeartMedia, Pandora, Google and other corporate leviathans in creating the MIC Coalition, a lobbying organization comprised of those entities that would do the paying if artists were indeed paid more.
“We as artists . . . have some sort of special relationship to the public radio stations in the country,” Lowery told me on The Pub. “It’s difficult when we find ourselves on the other side of a lobbying coalition from NPR. Just first of all, cognitively, that just seems weird to us right away.”
The blog that Lowery edits, The Trichordist, has been savaging NPR on this issue. On The Pub, Lowery takes the temperature down a bit and makes the case that public radio should get on what he sees as the right side of a matter of social justice.
Also on the show this week:
- Doug Mitchell, founder and director of NPR’s Next Generation Radio training project, says public radio needs more talent developers and scouts, like him.
- I propose a procedure to ensure honesty in editing.
For an upcoming episode, we’re looking for the questions you’ve always had about public media but have been afraid to ask! For me it’s, “Um, what is the spectrum auction?” Send in your questions (and tell me if you want to be anonymous) to email@example.com by Monday, July 6.
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Adam Ragusea hosts Current’s weekly podcast The Pub and is a journalist in residence and visiting assistant professor at Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism.