musicFIRST Fights For Artists Rights on the Radio

Last night I was invited to an exclusive event in Washington, D.C. thrown by musicFirst in conjunction with SoundExchange. The Sugarhill Gang and Whodini's Grandmaster Dee, who are in town for this weekend's Fresh Fest concert, mixed and mingled with Dru Hill's Sisqo, Jazz and Nokio, Crystal Waters (!), music industry execs and other assorted party people. However, the night wasn't all about shaking your groove thang or the top shelf open bar.

The musicFIRST (Fairness in Radio Starting Today) Coalition is a partnership of artists and organizations working together in an attempt to get radio stations to pay artists whenever their sound recordings are broadcast on AM or FM radio. Unlike the "pay to play" history of payola between recording companies and radio stations, artists are now asking for "pay for play." However, big bad corporate radio is refusing to budge and won't even give a fraction of a penny to compensate those whose work they've built their empires on.

Founding artists of musicFIRST include a diverse array of talent from all musical genres, including Will.I.Am, Wyclef, Donna Summer, Boney James, Chaka Khan, Ne-Yo and Common. Formed in 2007, musicFIRST has already mobilized and gone before Congress to fight for artist's rights to get paid for radio airplay in the same way that they receive royalties for digital transmissions of their recordings on the Internet, which SoundExchange collects and distributes. And it's not just the artists who will get compensated if musicFIRST has their way, but also background singers, studio musicians and copyright holders.

So what do you think? Should artists be paid for radio airplay as they are paid for online play or should the system remain as it is? Join in on the discussion in the comments section and peep some flicks and video of Grandmaster Dee on the wheels of steel after the bounce.

musicFIRST [Official]
SoundExchange [Official]


Sisqo unleashed the dragon at the party. FYI, I'm 5'2". That's all I'm saying about that.


Yes, Grandmaster Dee's eyes matched his shirt. Gasp. Swoon. Rinse. Repeat.


Crystal Waters texting someone on the dance floor. OMG! They r plyn GYPSY WOMAN! If I hear dis song 1 mo time!


Grandmaster Dee! Hit me!

And here's my guerrilla video of Grandmaster spinning a wicked classic house music set at the event. He made my night with this.

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4 Responses

  1. I think artists and writers should get a percentage on some defined broadcast/performance levy.
    I don't think contract musicians should.

  2. The payola biz is unfortunately impenetrable. It's been going on for 50 + years, there's just no way around it. I feel bad for true artists who want to get their material out there. Simply put, if you don't have enough $, you have no chance of being heard? Which is why we hear so much Rihanna/Akon/Justin Timberlake/Chris Brown garbage.

  3. This is bass ackwards logic. i know for a fact that half of the stuff some of these programmers play, they hate, so now the stations should pay these cats ON TOP OF doing them the favor of running their music into the ground in the first place? Also, why is this even a debate? The radio sucks tremendously.

  4. Are artists so hard up to make money off their records, that it is has come to this? I mean, don't get me wrong, they should be paid for the hardwork and dedication they put into their art, but I think they are a day late and unfortunatey a dollar shor with this approach. Those of us with a littlle age, know that radio is not like it use to be. It is not the place where everyone goes to hear new music or exclusives anymore. Many have stop listening all together and we certainly don't press record on a tape recorder, to record our favorite songs anymore. This may have been a good idea when radio was in it's prime but now it's for its like an old heirloom we keep around just because.


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