The big record labels have seen album sales, and their revenue, decline as more listeners opt for digital downloads. So now, they are urging Congress to impose a fee, which many consider a tax, on local radio stations simply for airing music free of charge for listeners.
Ironically, local radio remains the number one promotional vehicle for music – and already provides between $1.5 to $2.4 billion dollars annually in music sales for artists and record labels. By pushing a fee on local radio, record labels are biting the hand that feeds them.
WHERE DOES THE MONEY GO YOU ASK?
In short, the money would flow out of your community and into the pockets of the record labels – the great majority of which 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 fee imposed on local radio.
HOW DOES THIS AFFECT YOU?
If you’re one of the nearly 243 million people who listen to radio each week, this fee could reduce the variety of music radio stations play, and all but eliminate the possibility of new artists breaking onto the scene. It could particularly affect smaller, minority-owned stations, some of which may have to switch to a talk-only format like WJJM AM Fox Sports Talk or shut down entirely.
IT ALSO AFFECTS YOUR COMMUNITY.
Radio stations are major contributors to public service – generating $6 billion in public service annually and providing vital news and community information and free airtime to help local charities. If a tax were imposed, stations’ critical public and community service efforts could be reduced. And worst of all, the jobs of 106,000 Americans employed by local radio could be in jeopardy.
DOESN’T RADIO ALREADY PAY FOR MUSIC YOU ASK?
Radio compensates composers and songwriters to the tune of about $550 million annually. It’s widely understood that songwriters do not have the same name recognition to financially exploit themselves to make money. Performers can make money from touring and personal appearances, merchandise and other licensing and branding opportunities like perfume and clothing lines.
Radio stations also pay a royalty for streaming music over the internet, for reasons that include concerns that a digital copy of the music could be captured by the end user.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP LOCAL RADIO STATIONS LIKE WJJM FM?
Congress has continually recognized that local radio is different and should not be subject to such a fee. Local radio is free, so everyone, regardless of income, can have access to it. The Local Radio Freedom Act has been introduced in Congress to oppose a tax on local radio stations. Visit NoPerformanceTax.org to take action and encourage your senators and representatives to cosponsor this legislation.