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RSS icon Comments on Update on Webcaster Royalty Rates


Ooh, ooh! My turn:


Posted by Dan Savage | June 8, 2007 11:04 AM

The official banter from the Recording Academy aside, I still don't think you see the Internet 2.0 standpoint. Yes, artists deserve to be paid for their work. We all agree on this, dear David.

However, penalizing small independent broadcasters is NOT the way to make this happen. Yes, the average listener will only rack up royalties worth 8.00 a year. But they won't be paying a subscription charge (because it's very difficult to recruit listeners if they have to pay for what they can get for free terrestrially), and if a small webcasting station (run by some weirdo who only plays sitar music) has 1,000 listeners (not very many), than the webcaster ends up owing $8,000. Since the weirdo has no college affiliation, and no excess revenue due to bandwidth costs, where the hell does he get $8,000, or as you claim, the 10% of his theoretical revenue?

Even if SaveNetRadio is funded by large conglomerates, SoundExchange has still not presented a solution that makes sense for niche-oriented webcasters, and niche-oriented webcasters (like Seattle's own Hollow Earth Radio) are what makes webcasting so rad.

Posted by Ari Spool | June 8, 2007 11:08 AM

so boring that one of your writers has posted twice about it on lineout.

Posted by meinert | June 8, 2007 11:09 AM

Lord Volde-Meinert,

Do you always book all the bands you manage or have anything to do with at Block Party and Bumbershoot?

Is there a band that you manage or have anything to do with that you haven't booked for Block Party or Bumbershoot?

Isn't that a conflict of interest, Mr. High and Mighty?

Posted by geezy | June 8, 2007 11:11 AM

Arie - you don't actually believe artists should be paid I thought, as you don't support copyright law. So be honest there. And Soundexchange has presented a perfect solution - keep things as they are for small webcasters. That means EVERY small webcaster webcasting today continues to pay the same rate. How is that not a solution?

Posted by Meinert | June 8, 2007 11:13 AM

geezy, what's wrong with booking the best bands at the best festivals?

Posted by Meinert | June 8, 2007 11:16 AM

Online, I only listen to The Technicolor Web of Sound, which plays mostly obscure 60's psychedelic music. I have wound up buying several dozen cds because of what I have heard there, but I don't know if profits from reissue labels make their way to the original artists. I think the station is based in Denmark, so they might be untouchable.

Posted by elswinger | June 8, 2007 11:27 AM

Yo Dawg,
I believe in artists getting paid, but I also believe in widening the rules for fair use through systems like the Creative Commons license. If you aren't familiar with it, some forms of the Creative Commons license allow public use of an artists' creation, as long as the person doing the using isn't making any money off of the artists' work.

This is a good solution for small webcasters, who are producing their stations out of a love for money instead of capital. It also allows the use of the artists' music in YouTube videos, free-distribution remixes, and so on, all of which are currently illegal even though the producer makes no money and is offering free promotion.

I am honestly for artists getting paid, but I don't believe extortion of other people in their community is the answer.

Posted by Ari Spool | June 8, 2007 11:28 AM

This sentence was supposed to read:
This is a good solution for small webcasters, who are producing their stations out of a love for music instead of capital.

I'm obviously drunk already.

Posted by Ari Spool | June 8, 2007 11:29 AM

wow a level headed post on the royalty debate? who'd a thunk it.

there are several things that bug me as a working musician, and the whole not getting paid for where I know my music shows up is one of them. i do my ascap paperwork, I submit the forms, but I know johnny-gots-a-paycheck-from-his-adsense hasn't given a dime back to me. step in soundexchange.

but that's no biggie, like meinart points out, the whole debate is actually being funded by bug guns looking to spread their profit margin. the deal on the table is already a steal; if you make money of the back of musicians, you owe them a fucking cut-simple as that (especially when we're talking in terms of millions of dollars in revenue a year).

Posted by seattle98104 | June 8, 2007 11:32 AM

@3 Now who's being sensitive and defensive?

Posted by Dan Savage | June 8, 2007 11:35 AM

Seattle98104 - but if people like Ari get their way, musicians will be the only creative workers who don't get paid for their work (well, even less than they do now). Painters, sculptures, writers, filmakers, graphic designers, all get paid. Only musicians are forced by the federal government to allow radio broadcasters use of their music for free and with no creative control. Ari would like to see this expanded to the web, so people like Rupert Murdoch can make even more money while using music on his site he doesn't need to pay for. Disgusting. Creative Commons could be a good thing, IF an artist chooses themselves to have their music given out for free. But this choice shouldn't be forced on them.

Posted by Meinert | June 8, 2007 11:38 AM

How much are you getting paid by the RIAA to pitch their views?

Posted by caroline | June 8, 2007 11:45 AM

How much are you getting paid by the RIAA to pitch their views?

Posted by caroline | June 8, 2007 11:45 AM

Lord Volde-Meinert,

Let's see a breakdown of the bands you're involved with that you book to play festivals that you promote.

Cause word on the street is that you are a self serving, close minded, hypocritical, bastard that all the musicians in town fear.

What's wrong with that? Well I'll tell ya.

Here you purport over and over again how you want the best for the musicians when that really isn’t true. What you want, is the best for YOUR musicians so YOU and YOUR BUSINESS can make more money. And that isn’t such a bad thing, let’s just be real about your motives or at least get them out there in the open a little bit.

Let’s hear you talk about how you took a contract away from the Blue Scholars backing band, Big World Breaks / One Family and totally angled hard working people out of the deal. You broke something up that was in place before you got involved.

I’d love to hear what One Family has to say. Something tells me, they don’t think you are so fair.

Posted by geezy | June 8, 2007 11:45 AM


The federal government forces people who paid for an artists work, to pay again if they want to broadcast it. If I buy a painting I can show it to whomever, and even charge for the viewing, without paying the original artist.

Posted by fromohio | June 8, 2007 11:50 AM

hold up, geezy, attack the message not the messenger, else you're just sounding like a man with a vendetta rather than a man with a point.

Posted by seattle98104 | June 8, 2007 11:55 AM

caroline, I am not sure of the RIAA's views on this issue, though I assume they are close to mine. While I think the RIAA is out of touch on many issues, and I rarely care what they actually think, if they agree with me on this that's fine. I welcome their support. I just want to make sure that artists get paid for the use of their work. I think musicians are artists on the same level of other artists and should be paid the same. While I see many music writers bash Soundexchange for getting artists paid, I never see them taking the position that it is ok for their work to be used to make money by others with no compensation. That is the height of hypocrisy.

As for the musicians in BWB's, they got paid, and more than they would have had I not gotten involved. Of these events I have been involved with I would say less than a fraction of 1% of the bands have had any relationship with me. Other than that, I don't feel any need to defend myself geezy, stay on topic here. Or call me and we can discuss in person. I'm always open to that.

Posted by Meinert | June 8, 2007 11:55 AM

Just to help get all the information out there, you've said repeatedly that US musicians aren't paid when their songs are played on the radio. Perhaps it's so obvious to you that you didn't think it worth mentioning, but people directly involved might not realize that songwriters are indeed paid when their songs are played on the radio, so any band that writes its own songs is being compensated, at least in some way.

Posted by Levislade | June 8, 2007 12:04 PM


I believe people hate groups like the RIAA because they think that artists should get paid for use of their work. In no other industry is that the case. If an artist thinks their work is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, sell it for that much and let the end user decide how to make money off of it, but this "selling you a cd" while maintaining you are only selling a license to use the cd in a certain way is frankly absurd, and why no one sympathizes with the music industry.

Posted by fromohio | June 8, 2007 12:05 PM

Geezy: Find someone without conflict of interest in the music industry and you will realize that no one cares. If Meinert books bands he manages at festivals he puts on he is just paying himself his own booking fee. Who cares, especially if they are good bands (which they are)?

Meinert: Creative Commons is a great thing, but it requires the support of major labels, who utterly refuse to pass up any cent they could possibly be collecting. Another point we haven't illustrated: the fact that publishing rights are often held by the labels, not the artists. There are so many ways to con an artist out of their money, and I think maybe we should work on closing those loopholes before penalizing small distributors. This who debate, to me, is pretty much analogous to the war on drugs--Why does Lindsey Lohan get to do coke in public while a poor black man smoking pot at a bus stop goes to jail for six years? Punishing the underdog is never the solution to the money problems of a conglomerate, but they sure do seem to think it is.

Posted by Ari Spool | June 8, 2007 12:06 PM

19 - true, songwriters do get paid and subsequently, so do publishers. For even more info, the performance royalty we are talking about gets split 3 ways - 50% to the owner of the recording, 45% to the featured musicians, and 5% to the backing musicians.

Posted by Meinert | June 8, 2007 12:08 PM

Ari - actually these days it is very rare that labels own or control the publishing of a song as well as the master rights.

You continue to ignore the fact that the new rates are only being applied to for-profit webcasters with incomes of more than $1.2 million per year. Small webcasters, college and non-commercial stations only have to pay what they do currently. You think this is a bad thing?

Posted by Meinert | June 8, 2007 12:13 PM

So, again, in the long run the labels win.

I will admit that you've made me think a lot more about this issue than I had previously, to the point where I guess I don't really know where I stand. If the new regulations are set so that stations that are literally taking in zero money do not have to pay money, and stations taking in a small amount of money don't have to pay an untenable amount, then I don't think I would have a problem with that. If the regulations have evolved to that point, however, I would argue that that is due in large part to savenetradio and similar efforts.

Posted by Levislade | June 8, 2007 12:15 PM


Was going to make that point myself, but I will add that this also applies to foreign airplay of American-made music as well.

The simple fact is, the large media conglomerates in the U.S. have been getting a free ride on this issue since the first record was played over the airwaves, and they're going to fight tooth-and-nail to maintain the status quo for as long as possible.

However, it's probably an argument they're going to lose in the long-run, since they already make similar payments in every other medium, and in every other country BUT the U.S. of A. They can kvetch all they want about "limiting listener choice" or whatever spin they decide to put on it, but it's really just a cost of doing business that they already absorb to a certain extent anyway.

I would also note that the broadcast industry is currently lobbying Congress for legislation that would grant them the right to impose fees for their product being rebroadcast via other media, such as streaming or podcasts, so the point can be made that recording artists aren't asking for anything different than what broadcasters are demanding for themselves.

You're going to be hearing a lot more about this soon, as the FCC will be conducting hearing on the issue next month, and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists, the union that represents recording artists, plans a PR campaign around it that should drop sometime later this month.

Posted by COMTE | June 8, 2007 12:23 PM

Ari -

Who cares? Ask the One Family guys about Meinert. I think they might care.

Posted by Geezy | June 8, 2007 12:56 PM

I find it amusing that the guest editor of the Stranger's SLOG is supporting the RIAA and Soundcheck on this issue. Small webcaster's cannot afford the fees proposed by the Royalty Board, and the fees are way out of line with what terrestrial radio AND satellite radio pay. Some small webcasters have already gone off the air and shut down their websites. Read more here:

Why is net radio being singled out for exorbitant fees? Because the big 4 record labels - who run both the RIAA and Soundcheck - want to control the net radio industry the same way they have controlled terrestrial radio - so they can decide which bands get airplay and who doesn't. And if they can't control it, then they would prefer that it doesn't exist. Period, end of story.

Net radio has opened up hundreds of stations that play stuff that will NEVER be commercially viable to play, and those artists have gotten exposure that would never have happened any other way. In the past year I have bought more CDs than I have in the past 10 years from listening to net radio stations - and these are purchases of artist's CDs who I never would have known existed except for net radio.

If these net radio stations are forced to have ads to pay their fees the way terrestrial radio does, then I won't be listening to them and neither will a lot of other people. I do however, gladly donate/subscribe to these net radio stations and that is the business model the larger ones have developed. As for the smaller net radio stations, nobody gets paid - not the staff (usually 1 or 2 people doing on their own time) because any income pays for bandwidth. Although the artists don't get much or any royalties, they are getting exposure (which, in many cases, would not be happening otherwise).

By the way, you don't really think that artist's are being paid their royalties from RIAA and Soundcheck do you? As near as I can tell from reading lots of reports, all money the RIAA gets from lawsuits from copyright infringements, etc., is put back into filing more lawsuits, and it seems to be nothing more than a self-perpetuating lawyer machine.

Net radio is among the best things that has happened for artists and the music industry in several decades, and we need to do everything we can to keep it going, unless you want your only music choices to be the equivalent corporate rock mix of canned coke or pepsi. Call your legislator NOW to support the Internet Radio Equality Act! More info at:

Thanks for listening.

Posted by Seattle Salmon | June 8, 2007 12:59 PM


I love you and the crazy things you do...but I still think you're wrong about this--seriously wrong.

You've got a dog in this fight. I don't.

You're talking up your dog--and that's understandable. But it should be clear that "your dog" is held on a leash by the interests of mega-corporations just as large as the ones you're trying to demonize the other side with...

I love your passion--and usually, I share your view point on an issue, so that passion resonates with me...and that allows me to gloss over how sometimes you bend figures to suit your needs, how you constantly appeal to bizarre calls to emotion to blur rather than sharpen focus on your points or how you fail to consider a more nuanced, balanced and realistic view of a topic.

Makes it pointless to disagree with you, though...and I'd encourage anyone intrigued by this issue to do some deeper digging.


PS--I'm happy as hell that God's Pottery is playing Bumbershoot this year...and if our good friend Meinert had anything to do with that, I'll high-five him when I see him.

Posted by pgreyy | June 8, 2007 1:04 PM

What remains central to SoundExchange's position on the rates is the $500 per channel "administrative fee." From the "big four" webcasters alone, this "administrative fee" would generate ONE BILLION DOLLARS a year, which would supposedly be used to administer $20 MILLION in royalty collection and distribution.

Now maybe SoundExchange needs that much administrative money. With their current budget, they haven't been able to find 40% of the artists they have collected money for. And, in a particularly neat trick, they get to keep the money for artists they can't find.

There are nearly 9,000 artists who are going to lose money on June 30 unless they register with SoundExchange before then, and SoundExchange hasn't done so much as issue a press release about the impending forfeiture.

In light of this, saying that SoundExchange has the best interests of artists at heart is like saying wolves have the best interest of sheep at heart.

Despite the anguished hyperbole to the contrary, there isn't a webcaster saying they want to play the music without paying a royalty. What the webcasters are simply asking for is equity with other music sources.

And that bit about returning 2005 royalties is pure bullshit, since the SWSA royalties rates applied in 2005 and the current bill doesn't effect them. You know the RIAA and SoundExchange are desperate when they use clowns like the author to spread lies, knowing their mouthpieces lack the basic intelligence to check the "facts" they are spewing.

Thanks for lowering the intelligent content of the Internet by posting this article. I hardly thought that was possible.

Posted by Fred | June 8, 2007 1:17 PM

Not all webcasters are companies. Anyone can be a webcaster. Most don't charge or push advertising on their listeners. The Internet was once an open medium for everyone, large and small, to communicate and share. (So was radio.) Many people still believe that is a good thing to have.

Dear Slog: This thing you are doing today? Please don't do this again.

Posted by K | June 8, 2007 1:55 PM

Actually SoundExchange IS making an effort to contact recording artists, but the problem is, many of these individuals aren't all that easy to reach. So, instead, SE has been contacting content producers such as recording studios in order to try to get the word out.

I just emailed 500 of my members (most of whom aren't going to be affected by this, but hey, it helps to spread the word) about possible royalties being held by SE, so I know at least that much is getting done.

Posted by COMTE | June 8, 2007 2:34 PM

Fed - not sure who you are but it would be good of your to show where your bias and spin are coming from.

Where do you get your numbers that SoundExchange will collect $1 billion? I 've never seen this number, it seems unrealistic.

Soundexchange has been working hard, has issued several press releases and has been working with labels, managers, artist groups, getting articles in the press, etc, to contact artists. Artists I represent have known about the royalties for years. Over 20,000 artists have registered with SoundExchange already. Certainly they found out about it somehow.

I know for a fact that Soundexchange has the interest of artists in mind. Their board has many artists and artist representatives on it, as well as indie labels.

Small webcasters who are webcasting now won't have any increase in their royalties. Only commercial webcasters with over $1.25 million in income will have to pay the fair market value for the content they use. Seems ok to me. What's the issue. All you against the rates keep ignoring this fact.

Inslee's bill will have the effect you are debating. Read it.

Posted by Meinert | June 8, 2007 2:56 PM

If this fucks with David Byrne's station, I'm going to be real pissed.

Don't musicians benefit from having their work broadcast, even if it's for free? I understand the argument against free downloads. Anyone who wants to own a piece of music and have the luxury of playing it whenever they want should pay for it, but radio only increases a musician's exposure. How else are consumers supposed to find out about their product?


You do realize that that kind of arrangement, where a work is purchased from a musician and the buyer can do whatever he wants with it, is what landed Mozart in a pauper's grave, right?

Posted by keshmeshi | June 8, 2007 3:13 PM

Hello everyone....I think its sad for an organization like One Family to be victims of circumstance. We try to be a part of something special and as with anything there comes haters!! There is no reason that BWB/One family should have not been a part of the Blue Scholars showcase. BWB was not represented at their release. Aaron Walker-Loud is director and founder not Andy Coe, Dave Meinert or anyone else that thinks otherwise. I think that people are bold for going behind someone's let alone a company's back that has supported them..(meaning providing food for the table kind of ***) Interesting? And then, after all of that go and hire the same musicians to try and perform at the same show. Loyalty, friendship is obviously not present as in most business transactions. But, being a seattle-based group with a seattle-based group, you would think that there would be some understanding and appreciation for the efforts being put forth. People are tunnel-visioned and shallow. Sacrificing a positive movement for 50 bucks is sad. I guess it is worth it to some and not to others, either way One Family is doing its thing and continuing to grow. We apologize to all of our fans that were disappointed regarding the show and expecting to see us there, but other than that, its no love lost...obstacles are just that, keep it pushin - 1fam4life

Posted by Zach Self | June 8, 2007 3:23 PM

Uh Zach, I think it's pretty lame that you are making some business public. Let's keep the behind the scenes business stuff BEHIND the scenes. If you need to work out some personal bitterness with people do it personally...have the balls to call them up and not do it where everyone else has to read you whining.

Posted by musician206 | June 8, 2007 3:51 PM

Uh Zach, I think it's pretty lame that you are making business public, the fans don't care about that kind of shit anyway. Let's keep the behind the scenes business stuff BEHIND the scenes. If you need to work out some personal bitterness with people do it personally...have the balls to call them up and not do it where everyone else has to read you whining. And, for the record, is there any reason BWB SHOULD have been a part of the Blue Scholars showcase? obviously they found someone else who was a lot easier to work with...

Posted by musician206 | June 8, 2007 3:54 PM

Lame that Zach is making business stuff public?

Oh, so he should get screwed over and not say anything about it? Just what Darth Meinert wants.

I'm glad Zach is speaking out.

Does Meinert really think he screw people over and not have them be pissed about it?

Uh, they tried to 'work it out personally,' but Darth Meinert wouldn't have it.

I really would like to hear this whole story.

Zach, please tell us more.

Posted by Blake | June 8, 2007 4:01 PM

Darth Meinert, now THAT's funny. I had to ask my 8 year old nephew about the Harry Potter reference, but Star Wars, that I get.

Posted by Meinert | June 8, 2007 4:05 PM

I hate to tell you this Blake but Meinert was NOT the person that screwed anyone over...and I have no affiliation with him other than I was present for these events (I don't know what kind of a guy he is nor am I trying to defend him). My only point was what matters is the MUSIC. The fans don't care about what happens backstage and that's the way it should be. Were you at the shows? Were you disappointed? I WAS at both shows and the fans loved it! And, for the record Meinert really didn't have a whole lot to do with this anyway. It was the musicians who felt they weren't getting a fair shake and all Meinert did was facilitate. Get your facts straight bud and don't sound off on bad info and hersey...

Posted by musician206 | June 8, 2007 4:12 PM

Blake? Blake Lewis, is that you dawg? I saw you at the showbox release show with RA Scion, that was dope, glad to see you are keepin it real.

Posted by Randy Jackson | June 8, 2007 4:19 PM

Not affiliated in anyway? Really? Sounds like you work with him or for him.

I was at the shows, and I wanted to see the band, the way they were ORIGINALLY set up. So yeah, I was disappointed.

I was pissed when I found out that Meinert had screwed around with the lineup of musicians or had anything to with it whatsoever.

I'm a fan, and I care what happens backstage. I care when people in my favorite band in town get screwed over. You are wrong as can be about that, bud. I care.

And facts, let's get them. Zach, let's hear the facts.

Posted by Blake | June 8, 2007 4:27 PM

Actually I don't work for anyone. And if you want the facts you should see those'll be shocked brother. BTW, sounds like You work for One Family...who the hell are you anyway?? And how did you "find out" something that was obviously none of your buisness to begin with? Did you have anything to do with the show other than being at it? If you did then you obviously work for One Family and if you didn't then you really shouldn't be talking about someting that has NOTHING to do with you. BTW, the only change to the band was the drummer...everyone else was indentical!! So it's really not that big of a change from how things were originally set up dude. I thought the new drummer held it down pretty fucking well...
oh, just one more thing...let's not forget this was a Blue Scholars show, who really gave a shit who was in the backing band anyway?? As long as it sounded good...

Posted by musician206 | June 8, 2007 4:36 PM

the drummer? do you mean the drummer Aaron Walker-Loud, the founder of BWB, the heart of One Family and a beloved member of our community since long before meinart though he could turn a buck from local hip hop? that one that meinart screwed over? no who gives a shit. except the hip hop community of seattle that is starting to really see how we're being colonized...the good will is drying up fast.
not that you or he care. why should you? it's not your community.

Posted by saywhat. | June 8, 2007 4:47 PM


Plenty of artistic geniuses die poor now. I don't think the people who benefit from the current music industry model are really contributing more than they are taking away from the cultural trust. That's an opinion that gives me little sympathy for poor little rock stars.

Posted by fromohio | June 8, 2007 4:53 PM


You start by saying:

“Fed - not sure who you are but it would be good of your to show where your bias and spin are coming from.”

Why do you presume I am biased or am spinning things? The fact that you have a personal agenda doesn’t mean everyone does.

My name is Fred Wilhelms. I am an attorney who represents recording artists. If I have a bias, it is in favor of my artists. For most of my clients, their Internet radio exposure is on those stations that are going to disappear unless there is some PERMANENT solution to the royalty rates.

You see, if those stations disappear, they aren’t going to get airplay. If they don’t get airplay, they aren’t going to get royalties, no matter how high the rate is.

I'd rather have 10,000 stations paying $100 each (even including the ClearChannels) than 100 stations paying $10,000. For someone who appears to manage bands, the reasoning should be obvious. More venues mean more bands can be playing, and heard, and attracting an audience. Sure, the band that plays the arena will make more than the band that plays a club, but not everybody gets to play the arena, and the more clubs there are, the more bands get paid.

Take away the small Internet stations (and I assure you that is what is going to happen unless IREA passes), and my clients don't get paid.

That isn't good for them. And, to be blunt, it isn't so hot for me, either.

You go on:
“Where do you get your numbers that SoundExchange will collect $1 billion? I 've never seen this number, it seems unrealistic.”

This is one place where I got the $1 billion figure.

It’s been pretty widely reported over the last day or so. Google “SoundExchange” and “billion” and you’ll get a pretty good list. Before you discount something as “unrealistic,” you probably should do more than just spit out what SoundExchange feeds you.

Rhapsody had 400,000 personalized channels in 2006. AT $500 a channel that’s $200 million right there in so-called “administrative fees,” and they aren’t even the largest of the big bad webcasters that SoundExchange wants to save the artists from. Pandora alone is going owe a half billion if their reported channel numbers are correct.

And please don’t even suggest that this “administrative fee” is going to find it’s way to the artists. If that’s what they wanted, they would have called it a “minimum license.” Have you ever known an organization to pass along “administration fees.” Keep in mind that SoundExchange doesn’t have to show its books to anyone.

Oh, and since you needed me to support my numbers, I am going to ask the same of you.
You say that 3,000 artists have written to Congress in support of the CRB rates.
Where did you get this number, did you verify it independently, and who are they?

You can do the math to get to the $1 billion I referred to. You're going to have to give me something substantive to support that "3,000." Unless, of course, you're spreading a number SoundExchange has given you without any backup.

You say:
“Soundexchange has been working hard, has issued several press releases and has been working with labels, managers, artist groups, getting articles in the press, etc, to contact artists.”

Take a look at the “unfound artist” list on SoundExchange’s website.

How many of those artists do you think saw SoundExchange’s full page ad in Billboard?
What SoundExchange has primarily been doing is telling people how hard a job they’ve been doing.

I have a long history with SoundExchange on this issue. I have a well earned reputation for finding money for artists, and I have developed a pretty extensive network to help in finding artists. A number of years ago, a major label asked me to help locate over 300 artists for whom they had “dormant” royalty accounts. On a strictly voluntary basis, I found over 225 in less than six weeks, and saw over $400,000 in accrued royalties paid out as a result of my efforts. I was not offered, and did not take, a dime from anyone, label or artist, for my work.

In 2004, John Simson made a big show of publicly asking me to help find the “thousands” of artists they had not been able to locate over the first four years. He did this in front of a room full of industry people and artists. I immediately accepted.

Finding money for artists is how I make a living. Finding artists when the money is already there is a lead pipe cinch in comparison, and it is actually fun and easy to do the detective work.
For nearly a year, every attempt I made to follow up and offer help was ignored. I only got a response from Simson when I was quoted in a newspaper article regarding my disappointment at their search efforts.

The upshot of that call from Simson was that, several months later, I was actually offered the full list of artists they could not find. In order to get it, all I had to do was sign a non-disclosure agreement.

Let me repeat that.

They wanted me to help them find people they couldn’t locate, and they were willing to give me a list of those people, but only if I agreed that I couldn’t tell anyone they were on the list.

I’m sure you’ll believe that is “unrealistic.” So did I. I told them to stuff it.
Fifteen months later, in September 2006, they released the unfound list on their website, a mere 90 days before they intended to absorb funds from everyone they could not find. It was quite a list, and it demonstrated just how much effort they had made into identifying those artists. They had royalties collected in the name of “Various Artists,” and “Artistes Variosos,” too. There was an entry for “Sponsored by Atlantic Records.” The list was a mess. This was SIX years after they started collecting money and names, and there were nearly 9,000 people on the list, or approximately 40% of the people they had collected money for.

You can’t tell me that’s doing a good job.

You do say:

“Artists I represent have known about the royalties for years.”

Whoopee. So have mine. Well trade gold stars if we ever meet. Now tell me, how many artists on that list have managers or agents or lawyers?

Not many, I'll wager.

Did you see the press release about the forfeiture from 8,300 accounts that is going to happen in three weeks?

Don't worry. No one has seen that press release. The only reference to it on their website is in small type on a page leading to the "unfound artist" list. In other words, you have to know they are looking for you before you can learn they are going to take money from you.

A little further down in your letter, you say that you know "for a fact" that SoundExchange has the interest of artists at heart.

Tell me how their conduct in regard to the forfeitures gibes with that. There are "facts" and there are "facts." Unless you possess some secret information that you "know for a fact," then you're talking through your hat.

Take a look at the entries beginning with “Los” (and try to explain why listing artists alphabetically by their FIRST names is such a good idea). How many of those artists speak or read ENGLISH? You see any SoundExchange press releases in Spanish? There aren’t any, despite there being over 1,500 obviously Spanish language groups on the list.

Tell me how good a job they’re doing. Tell me how all that proves they have the artists' interests at heart.

You claim

“Over 20,000 artists have registered with SoundExchange already. Certainly they found out about it somehow.”

And over 8,300 haven’t found out about it.

If you promise to do the job and the Library of Congress gives you a monopoly, NOT finding 30% of your constituents is NOT doing a good job.

You say:

“I know for a fact that Soundexchange has the interest of artists in mind.”
Prove it, if you say it is a “fact.”

I've covered this one. It's bull. The actual, provable "facts" don't back up your claim.

You say:
“Their board has many artists and artist representatives on it, as well as indie labels.”

That’s just wrong. There isn’t one working artist on the board, and every “artist representative” was invited by the RIAA. Please do some research before you post complete falsehoods like this. Your credibility is completely shot as it is, but someone may end up quoting you about those "artists" on the board, and you'll end up making people dumber all over the world.

And any artist who believes her label, major or indie, is looking out for her interests when the label is looking to share in the same royalty pool deserves exactly what she gets.

You say:

“Small webcasters who are webcasting now won't have any increase in their royalties. Only commercial webcasters with over $1.25 million in income will have to pay the fair market value for the content they use.”

This is a crock, and you should be ashamed of yourself.

Make one more dollar than $1.25 million and the full rates kick in for the whole year, not just what you make after exceeding the cap. You are going to owe retroactive royalties that may well be more than your entire revenue.
Under these rules, heaven forbid that some small commercial station gets popular.

And here’s the real punch line.

SoundExchange not only wants a revenue cap. They want a usage cap, too. They haven’t talked about that much since they issued their press release about their “offers.” You get the break in the royalty rates ONLY as long as not too many people hear you. If the same retroactive guillotine applies here as for the revenues, a station just has to go one listener over the usage cap to make the full royalty rates apply, even if the station is a non-profit, or a college station, or one of those stations specializing in broadcasting hometown news to our troops.

Why do you think SoundExchange hasn’t explained the usage cap?

Because they really can’t and pretend they are serious about finding a solution?

One more thing; stop spreading the SoundExchange smoke about "market rates" for music. Market rates are set by the market, not by a tribunal.

Frankly, the fact that there hasn't been a rush to accept SoundExchange's press-release offers is evidence that the CRB rates, and even the supposed "deals," aren't anywhere close to "market rates." Only SoundExchange, and their dupes, claim the CRB set "market rates."

You say:

“Seems ok to me.”

Because you appear to be a very trusting soul.

SoundExchange hands you a tall glass of Kool-Aid and you never question why. Go ahead and drink it, just stop spitting it at other people.

You say:

“What's the issue. All you against the rates keep ignoring this fact.
Inslee's bill will have the effect you are debating. Read it.”

I have. It represents the only permanent solution that will allow Internet radio to grow and thrive. Artist clients and friend agree with me.
Here’s a representative list of them:
Bryan Adams
Damon Ayala
Harold Brown (War)
Morris Dickerson (War)
Jack Ely (Kingsmen)
Mark Farner
Mike Felten
Stewart Francke
Adie Grey
Carlos Guitarlos
Sarah Lee Guthrie
Betty Harris
Brian Hyland
Johnny Irion
Al Kooper
Bettye LaVette
Michelle Lundeen
Dave MacKenzie
Scott McClatchy
Sam Moore
Lee Oskar (War)
Mzwandile Qotoyi
Moody Scott
Howard Scott (War)
Robbin Thompson
Ellen Whyte
Joe Messina (Funk Brothers)
Jon Tiven
Dorothy Moore
Daniel “Slick” Ballinger
Richard Williams (Madlads)Mighty Hannibal
Dickie Williams

I’ve shown you mine. Show me yours.


Posted by Fred Wilhelms | June 8, 2007 6:52 PM

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Posted by mwand | June 8, 2007 8:13 PM


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