Nashville Mayor Megan Barry has declared Sept. 19-25 as Radio Week in celebration of the city’s close ties with the industry, and the first appearance of the National Association of Broadcasters’ 2016 Radio Show in town.
Naturally, Nashville’s music industry maintains close ties with radio which, even in the digital era, remains one of the principal promotions venues for new music as well as the vehicle for a significant portion of overall music listening. The city’s Radio Week proclamation comes alongside a recent dovetailing between the debate over royalty payments from YouTube and the lack of similar payments from the terrestrial radio industry, which doesn’t pay artists in the U.S.
Barry’s proclamation notes that “local radio stations and the record industry enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship that continues to spur enormous music creation by new and established artists, which has a direct impact for Nashville in jobs and our music industry across the country and around the world.” It also states the Radio Show “highlights the symbiotic relationship that artists and radio share.”
Critics argue, though, that U.S. terrestrial radio companies are taking advantage of artists. They pay no royalties to performers or copyright holders, saying that airplay serves as promotion which benefits artists far more than royalties. Meanwhile, internet, satellite radio and streaming services pay royalties on the music they make available.
“This resolution largely dodges the real issue which is whether or not on balance radio gets more from the creation of music than it promotes it,” said Ted Kalo of the musicFIRST Coalition. “We would contend radio gets a lot more from the making of music than [artists get when radio] promotes it. And if they’re promoting record sales, they’re doing a horrible job. It definitely doesn’t benefit artists the way it might have 30 years ago.”
A spokesman for the Mayor did not immediately respond to an email request for comment Monday. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tennessee), one of two co-sponsors of the Fair Play Fair Pay bill introduced last year in the U.S. House of Representatives, also did not respond to a request for comment. The bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet last May, where it currently sits.
The other cosponsor of the bill, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), said in a statement: “I’m glad they are coming to Nashville. I hope the broadcasters and artists sit down together and work this out.”
UPDATE 5/10: This article has been updated with the correct spelling of the Nashville mayor’s name. It is Megan Barry, not Berry.