Monday, October 12, 2009

Radio Has Promotional Value...

...yet even The Huffington Post gets connived into publishing RIAA talking points to the contrary.

Here is my unedited response to their Radio Will Stop Playing Music piece:

To claim that MTV had no promotional value is absurd. Artists whose videos were played on MTV were exposed to millions of consumers and, as a result, those artists sold more product than had MTV not played their video.

Back in MTV's heyday, the recording industry (aka the major labels) spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on single promotional videos. That's what they were called: promotional. The major labels decided it was a good investment to spend big money to impress MTV to get the airplay to promote their products.

The same "airplay is promotional" has also long been true of radio, which is why for decades record labels illegally paid (payola) to get their records on the air. Labels gladly paid it. The fact that payola ever existed proves the point: labels paid radio to play and thereby promote their records.

You say: "the recording industry did not have strong enough lobbying power against the broadcasters in 1976 when the copyright law was amended."

Yeah, poor, out-moneyed recording industry! And then you continue, without irony, to state:

"Thankfully, the recording industry was smarter when it came to webcasters, satellite radio providers" as if those not-yet-in-existence in 1996 industries had a seat at the lobbying table when the Telecommunications Act to which you refer was created.

Finally, the misleading old: "people don't tune in to hear commercials." That's not even an argument, it's a misleading obfuscation. Commercials pay for operating costs. They are a necessity for free, over-the-air radio. Without advertising, free over-the-air radio would not exist. Listeners understand that. Do all music-loving radio-listeners (except advertisers) wish it could be all music, all the time? Sure. The terrestrial radio industry is simply not set up to work that way.

People tune in to hear music, and when they hear it on the radio, there is a chance listeners will go out and buy it, and maybe some t-shirts and other merchandise, and maybe buy a ticket to a live performance. If people don't hear it on the radio...they might not hear it at all. Where does that leave the artists?

Ted Leibowitz, BAGeL Radio

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