Music industry spokesworm Martin Machowsky, who is doing his best to convince America’s legislators that Sheryl Crow and the multinational record companies don’t have enough money, and should be given more from the likes of, well, me, told industry website AllAccess.com recently that “…music has value, if it did not, radio stations would not use it.” Just for the record, the only thing I cut off of that statement with my … was the word “but.” It just flowed better without it.
Of course he is correct about that. But via his statement, one can also find enlightenment by flipping it around: Radio has value, or the music industry would not be so anxious to assure radio play for their artists.
I get calls and emails from representatives of the record companies every week imploring, in some cases nearly begging, me to play their song. Why? Because radio play translates directly into sales. It’s how most people learn about new music. The artists know it. The record companies know it. But they’ve ganged together under this slimy coalition to pretend that they don’t know it.
They act like evil corporate radio is stealing money from poor, penniless artists. What a crock of crap. Have you seen the radio industry stock prices lately? I’ve got as many gripes with big corporate radio as anyone, but come on. Let’s see, up until about 12 years ago radio was a comparative mom-and-pop operation, so acting like for 80 years some J. Pierpont Morgan-esque fat cat radio industry has been preying upon helpless little musicians in the biggest load of bull I’ve heard in a good while. You know who takes advantage of helpless little musicians trying to get a record deal? The record companies, who just happen to stand to benefit big-time themselves from this new cash-grab, that’s who.
In a recent filing with the FCC—and again, I’m getting my info from the fine folks at AllAccess.com—these jerks on the BIG CORPORATE RECORD COMPANIES’ (see, I can make them sound evil, too) side cited a radio station pulling all artists affiliated with their MusicFirst Coalition off of their airwaves for a month as an example of radio industry skullduggery. Here’s the truth in that: First of all, that happened a grand total of once, two years ago for crying out loud, and second, it was a station (WMPH-FM) licensed to the Brandywine School District, run by the students of Mount Pleasant High School in Wilmington, Delaware. So, a bunch of high school kids with enough moxie to take a little stand are apparently the bullies here against frail recording industry executives.
I’m just going to make it very clear to my pals in the recording industry: You are messing with a very good thing you’ve got going. There’s no law that says I have to play your artists. I can do whatever the hell I want with my radio station, as can my new high school heroes at WMPH, provided I continue to operate in the public interest. Radio stations, music radio stations in particular, go to quite a bit of effort to ensure they are meeting standards for broadcasting in the public interest by doing at least some news, weather, public affairs, and other such programming interspersed with their music. Playing Sheryl Crow surprisingly has never counted for much when license-renewal time comes up.
If they keep pushing this, I would totally be in favor of all music radio stations going all-talk for a week or two. Not one single song played on U.S. radio stations. How would the record companies like that world? How would that impact artists with albums being released in those weeks? I don’t think they’d like such a world, and I wouldn’t either. But then, I’m not messing with a status quo that works fine and makes money for everyone involved. Think about it, dear recording industry.