From Cutting A Throat To Cutting A Deal

Two years ago, I traveled to one of the most dangerous spots in the world: Minneapolis/St. Paul.

OK, I'm not suggesting that the wonderful Twin Cities suffer from a high crime rate. Merely that the radio conference I attended there, the Conclave, was not a safe place for an artists' advocate, especially since I was stating on a panel that radio should pay artist royalties. I blogged at that time that the National Association of Broadcasters' then-CEO told me — and the audience — he'd rather "cut his throat than negotiate" on performance royalties.

What a difference a couple of years (and a couple of congressional hearings) make. At this year's Conclave, Bonneville President/CEO Bruce Reese stated, "I'd love to cut a deal with musicFIRST [the coalition co-founded by The Academy seeking royalties for artists], but it would have to be on the right terms…the odds are stacked against us long-term, because so many in Congress are sympathetic to the fairness claims of the music community."

Knowing what it's like to deliver an unpopular message at the Conclave, I must commend Mr. Reese for his willingness to make a bold — but accurate — statement. A deal means both sides compromise. We won't get everything we want, and neither will the broadcasters. But it is better than a protracted war. Reese gets it and, given his influence at the NAB, one can assume the NAB leadership gets it as well.

Now the question is, will the radio station owners support Reese's view? We'll have to wait and see. Or as the broadcasters would say, "Don't touch that dial."

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