Obviously, for the past several years, music technology has advanced and listeners are choosing digital downloads over albums.  The record industry has opted to remain stagnant by not moving forward in this digital advancement, thus costing them millions of dollars in lost revenue.

Now, after realizing their blunder, they are searching for someone to foot the bill for their mistake.  Radio looks like the perfect “fall guy.” 
Radio, on the other hand, although recognizing a loss as well, still remains the top promotional conduit for music, playing and promoting albums for artists from all genres of music. This promotion propels many performers to the top of the charts in record time. Record companies and artists have prospered in this mutually beneficial relationship of free air play for free promotion for many, many years.

Now, the record industry is hyping up the artists to demand a royalty tax on music that is played over the airwaves. The Performance Rights Act, (H.R.848 and S.379), would charge a fee for each song played over the airwaves, something that has been provided to the communities at no cost for over 80 years. 

Don’t be fooled into thinking that the motive for the record label is fairness to the artist, when in truth, 50 percent of the “tax” is going straight into the record label’s pockets. Currently, compensation to the artist is the promotional benefit that pays them through record sales, concert tickets and promotional sales of the artist’s merchandise.

Many minority-owned  radio stations, as well as smaller community stations, will be forced to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to record labels through this performance tax. Sending this tax to record labels, which are mostly foreign-owned and overseas, doesn’t even make sense when shouting, “Fairness to the artist!” This would certainly force many of these radio stations to possibly switch to talk-only format or, even worse, shut down. 

This tax on music played over the radio could also mean a loss for small and minority communities that depend on the local radio for public service announcements, civic and government announcements, emergency news, local news and weather reports. Local radio is now free to the community, which means that everyone can afford it, regardless of income.

Many of these stations will have to lay off employees due to the performance tax. There are so many consequences to smaller radio stations if they are forced to pay this performance royalty tax that could have an adverse effect on local communities. These issues need to be addressed and discussed openly.  Record companies are playing on the heartstrings of Congress, pretending to be interested in fairness to the artist, when in fact they are solely interested in their own monetary benefits.

Please let your Congressional leaders know how much you depend on local minority radio, and ask that they oppose the Performance Rights Act (H.R. 848).

Roy M. Eavins II is the President/CEO of the Jericho Broadcast Networks, an urban media network based in Eatonville. He can be reached at 407-349-7623 or via email at jbninformation@gmail.com  www.MyJBNOnline.net.