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June 5, 2008
Dennis Wharton
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NAB Urges Lawmakers to Probe Record Labels

--Trade group urges investigation of record label 'exploitation of musicians'--

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Association of Broadcasters released the following response addressing today's claims made by the musicFIRST Coalition, an organization backed by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Commenting on statements made by musicFIRST, NAB Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton issued the following statement:

"musicFIRST's latest missive fundamentally distorts today's radio market and misleads policymakers on the devastating consequences of a potential $7 billion tax benefiting RIAA and the foreign-owned record labels.

"Ironically, the 'comparison' put forth today by the RIAA-backed group fails to acknowledge the most significant aspect of this entire debate: the comparison between increased free radio airplay and the resulting hike in music sales.

"Make no mistake: America's hometown radio stations expose musical artists new and old to 235 million listeners every week, generating untold millions in record sales for the music industry. Indeed, it is the unparalleled promotional value of free, local radio that has made America's music industry the most successful in the world.

"NAB welcomes this debate, and we encourage Congress to call record label executives to the table and answer to their well-documented decades-long abuse and exploitation of musicians."

To date, eight U.S. Senators and more than 200 House members are on record in opposition to any new "performance fee, tax, royalty or other charge" for local radio airplay of music. Senators that have expressed opposition to the RIAA-backed effort include Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Wayne Allard (R-CO), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Ben Nelson (D-NE), James Webb (D-VA), and Jon Tester (D-MT). The House resolution, introduced last year, was authored by Reps. Gene Green (D-TX) and Mike Conaway (R-TX).

"Congress should not impose any new performance fee, tax, royalty, or other charge relating to the public performance of sound recordings on a local radio station for broadcasting sound recordings over the air, or on any business for such public performance of sound recordings," reads the Senate resolution, S. Con. Res. 82.

On numerous occasions, both record label executives and artists have recognized the promotional value of free radio airplay. Such statements include:

"I have to thank... every DJ, every radio guy, every promotions guy, everybody who ever put up a poster for me and spread the word."

-- Alicia Keys, recording artist and Grammy winner, 2008 Grammy Awards, February 2008

"[R]adio remains the best way to get new music into the listeners' lives."

--Sony BMG Executive VP Butch Waugh as quoted in Radio & Records, January 11

"[R]adio is the conduit to the people, the voice of the format and the lifestyle's soundtrack."

--Sony BMG Nashville VP of Marketing Tom Baldrica, as quoted in Radio & Records, January 11

"Obviously, radio is probably the most important thing for a new rock band coming out. If you don't get yourself on the radio, then you won't draw bodies at the clubs and you won't sell records."

-- 'Another Animal' drummer Shannon Larkin, Drum Magazine, 2008

"Country radio, thank you so much for being our mouthpiece. You know what we do means nothing if it never gets played, and no one gets to hear it."

-- 'Rascal Flatts,' Vocal Group of the Year, Country Music Awards, 2007

"I can't even believe that this is real... I want to thank country radio. I'll never forget the chance you took on me."

-- Taylor Swift, Horizon Award (for best new artist), Country Music Awards, 2007

"I have yet to see the big reaction you want to see to a hit until it goes on the radio. I'm a big, big fan of radio."

-- Richard Palmese, Executive Vice President of Promotion, RCA, 2007

"Radio has proven itself time and time again to be the biggest vehicle to expose new music."

-- Ken Lane, Senior Vice President for Promotion, Island Def Jam Music Group, 2005

"It is clearly the number one way that we're getting our music exposed. Nothing else affects retail sales the way terrestrial radio does."

--Tom Biery, Senior Vice President for Promotion, Warner Bros. Records, 2005

"That's the most important thing for a label, getting your records played."

-- Eddie Daye, recording artist, 2003

"Radio helped me a lot. That's the audience. I can't see them, but I know they're there. I can't reach out and touch them with my hand, but I know they're there."

-- B.B. King, recording artist, 2002

"If a song's not on the radio, it'll never sell."

-- Mark Wright, Senior Vice President, MCA Records, 2001

"Air play is king. They play the record, it sells. If they don't, it's dead in the water."

-- Jim Mazza, President, Dreamcatcher Entertainment, 1999

"I am so grateful to radio. Their support has truly changed my life, and I hope they know how appreciative I am for that."

-- Jo Dee Messina, recording artist, 1999

About NAB
The National Association of Broadcasters is a trade association that advocates on behalf of more than 8,300 free, local radio and television stations and also broadcast networks before Congress, the Federal Communications Commission and the Courts. Information about NAB can be found at


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