Have you heard about the latest power grab attempt from the Recording Industry Association of America? If you listen to the radio you probably have because I started hearing the commercials a few days ago and finally got curious enough to look it up. They are lobbying for a new tax on radio stations, called the Performance Rights Act (S. 379 and H.R 848) and, while it is safe to say that I would be opposed to most new taxes, this one is especially troublesome.
There is actually an amusing story here, if you have the heart to laugh at such am organization of bullies and thugs routinely getting away with their destructive behavior. Some years ago, the RIAA successfully lobbied for a similar tax on internet radio stations. The cost increases were directly followed by the closing of most independent or even semi-independent internet stations who simply could not afford the new bill. Net result: The RIAA did not receive more money and listeners did receive less music choices. It was the ultimate lose-lose situation.
Never one to learn anything from reality, the RIAA is at it again. This time they want to hit terrestrial radio stations (that would be the fancy term for AM and FM radio, the ones you listen to in your car) with the same basic tax they used to kill internet radio. They now claim that AM and FM radio are getting a free ride and should not be exempt. Oddly enough, the biggest gun the RIAA used in arguing for the tax on internet radio was the difference between them and terrestrial radio. Now that they have snaked their way into stealing money that did not belong to them, they want to ignore that difference in order to steal more.
The truth of the matter is that terrestrial radio stations already pay licencing fees. In fact, the crippling licencing fees that were applied to what internet radio still exists just a couple years ago were based on the very fees that terrestrial stations pay. This tax would amount to charging them twice for the same service.
But wait, it gets better!
Try to imagine your favorite recording artist (genre doesn't even matter here) and then try to imagine where that artist would be without the radio. Did you imagine sitting in the parents' garage wishing they could be heard by more than their nearest neighbors? Because that is where most recording artists would be without the radio. Radio is, essentially, free advertising for people trying to sell CDs and concert tickets, and it is free advertising that reaches millions of people. The RIAA should be paying the radio stations for this service.
But wait, it still gets better!
It is actually illegal for the RIAA to pay radio stations for this service. Why is it illegal? It's illegal because the RIAA (and the artists) depend so heavily on radio play for the money they earn that it is considered cheating for them to "bribe" a station into putting a particular artist or song into higher rotation. That's right, ladies and gentlemen. It is so obvious and demonstrated that the RIAA depends on radio play that someone actually had to pass laws to prevent the RIAA from paying the stations and now the RIAA actually believes it's in a position to be paid instead. This is an association that is so out of touch with reality, even these taxes couldn't pay the long distance bill to make contact.
I've said it before and they insist on continuing to prove me right: the RIAA would rather steal and tax your money than earn it. They are not a business model, they're a mafia and they deserve to be treated as such. If there is any industry in this country that should go under in these times, it's the RIAA. If only we could be so lucky.