Tom Waits Clashes With Clear Channel Over Radio Royalty Legislation

Tom Waits Clashes With Clear Channel Over Radio Royalty Legislation
On Tuesday, December 18, new legislation was introduced in U.S. courts, aimed at eliminating a 50-year-old royalty exemption that allows major broadcasters like Clear Channel and CBS to air songs without paying the labels or performers.

Tom Waits, iconoclastic songwriter, performer and founding member of musicFIRST, a group spearheading the effort to end the exemption, has expressed his distaste for the current law "It’s just plain wrong for [terrestrial] radio to be allowed to build profitable businesses with growing revenues on the backs of artists and musicians without paying them fairly for it,” said Waits. "The bottom line here is that radio plays music to attract listeners and bring in advertising dollars.”

Organisations supporting a change to the law along with musicFIRST are the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) and SoundExchange, a group responsible for collecting and distributing artist and label royalties.

Unsurprisingly, detractors include the notoriously artist-unfriendly Clear Channel, who calls the legislation "backwards” and claims that the free advertising from airplay is compensation enough for artists and labels. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) is singing the same tune, though conveniently attempting to shift the focus onto the "decades of Ebenezer Scrooge-like exploitation of countless artists” by the RIAA rather than addressing the major Scrooge move of denying these exploited artists future compensation.

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Tom Waits - Hold On