Meet the New Boss...
Let's hope the next line does not follow the famed song lyric.
In my May 13 blog post, I noted how the former president/CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters politely declined my invitation to negotiate a radio royalty for artists by eloquently stating his desire to cut his throat before sitting down with the musicFIRST Coalition. Well, rather than cutting his throat, he resigned. (Although some press reports called it an "ouster.")
On Sept. 18 the NAB announced its choice for the new chief, former Senator Gordon Smith. The two-term Republican lost his seat in the 2008 elections and, as often happens to former legislators, re-emerged as a high-profile lobbyist. Being the top dog in Washington for the TV and radio industry will have a number of challenges, but arguably his most important will be to deal with the momentum of the Performance Rights Act. Our bill has passed the House Judiciary Committee and was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. Will Smith see the writing on the wall and accept that musicians should be paid for their work? Or will he take the hard-line approach of his predecessor?
No one knows, but there is reason to expect the former. In the Senate, Smith was known as someone who could "reach across the aisle" and work with both Democrats and Republicans on an issue. He was also a co-chairman of the Senate Intellectual Property Caucus, and thus sought to protect copyright and promote intellectual property. as an important economic driver. So in theory, he is not, as the song continues, "Same as the old boss."
So, as I wrote months ago, the invitation still stands. Sit down with the artist community and accept the basic concept that every business must pay for the content it uses. I know broadcasters have had a free pass for decades but as another famous lyric so aptly notes, "the times, they are a changin'."