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MusicFirst: Bono Backs Performance Rights

NAB says royalty would hurt less-established artists

In a statement released Monday through the musicFirst Coalition, which is backed by record labels, U2 lead singer Bono says that while he appreciates radio, he also supports the creation of a fair performance right on AM and FM radio.

Bono stated: “While we have many friends at radio, and appreciate the many things that radio has done for our band over the years, we believe it’s only fair that when radio makes money by playing a recording artist’s music and selling advertising, the recording artist should be compensated just as songwriters are already.” He also acknowledged the music industry is “in a state of freefall.”MusicFirst claimed that the National Association of Broadcasters had previously distributed “an unrelated quote” from Bono to suggest that he opposed legislation that would mandate that radio stations pay a fee for the on-air use of copyrighted music.

Calling the proposal a tax, NAB opposes the measures, saying that radio stations already pay for the use of copyrighted music and that artists benefit from on-air play, which drives music sales.

NAB Monday defended its dissemination of the Bono quote, saying the singer told a WHDH(TV), Boston news reporter in March why his band chose to hold a free concert in that city. “It’s worth remembering that U2, you know we broke in the United States through Boston and through radio stations like BCN and stuff like that,” Bono said, referring to WBCN(FM), Boston. “We depend on radio,” he continued. Video from the WHDH-TV interview, is on the station Web site, click “Watch the video.”

NAB Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton stated: “The irony is that it will be the less-established performers who will be hurt most by a performance tax. If radio stations are forced to pay to play music, program directors will be less likely to take a chance playing unknown artists and will instead stick with established musicians like Bono. New artists and niche formats will suffer, and Bono and Britney Spears will become wealthier.”