Here’s the deal: free terrestrial radio exists because it is advertiser supported. Radio stations play music that they think their listeners want to hear. The more listeners a station has, the more it can charge advertisers to run their commercials.
Although radio stations pay music licensing fees, these payments do not always touch all of the performers of a particular song. If you, as an artist/performer/composer/etc. have participated in the creation of a work that someone else is using to make money for themselves, then you, the artist/performer/composer/etc. have a right to be paid. End of story. Radio stations are using the work and efforts of others to help generate advertising revenues and profits for themselves.
Radio One founder and board chairman Cathy Hughes and radio personality Tom Joyner say the “performance tax” could almost certainly spell the end for urban radio because the additional costs would discourage the activities that help promote artists’ work. While it’s true that by playing an artist’s work, radio stations do provide some promotional value to the artist. But make no mistake, the primary beneficiary of playing an artist’s work is the radio station because of the advertising revenue they are able to generate.
Here’s my question: Black Buying Power in 2008 was projected to be $913 billion. How can black radio ever go out of business by selling access to $913 billion in buying power? My thinking is, maybe black radio isn’t charging enough! If advertisers want access to the millions of potential consumers present in black radio, they should be willing to pay a fair price for access. Free black radio isn’t going anywhere. There’s too much money to be made.
Because most “urban” stations are not owned by African-Americans, access to these consumers is sold on the cheap. The threat of Non-Urban Dictates (NUDs) further forces station managers to stand at the table begging for whatever ad dollars they can get.
New music discovery via terrestrial radio is very difficult today because playlists are often controlled by corporate bosses who are trying to make sure that only the most popular songs are played at just the right time to increase the likelihood that listeners won’t turn the dial and will stay to hear the commercials. Ultimately, black radio listeners are going to have to regain control of black radio by controlling access to their ears.
If you want the privilege of having the opportunity to sell me your product, then pay my black radio station a fair ad rate that more than covers the “performance tax”. If you refuse, then I, the black consumer, will redirect my spending dollars elsewhere.
If you the artist continue to want me to support you and your work, then stop being so quick to sell your soul just to get in the game. Quit signing contracts that only provide short-term benefits at the expense of long-term security. Hand le your business and only sign contracts that are fair to you and the other performers that make your work possible.
If we as a people do not learn to control who we give our dollars to, then we will never be able to be fairly compensated for the fruits of our labor, and we will never be able to build financial wealth that we can enjoy and leave a legacy for future generations. Time to stop talking. Let’s get it done now!
Darda Wealth Management