Huppe Attacks Radio Again


This should serve as yet another reminder that Michael Huppe’s war on your bank account isn’t going away anytime soon. The Sound Exchange CEO has consistently criticized “Big FM Radio” for not paying its fair share to artists for the right to air their music. We don’t recall hearing any of the artists playing at the recent iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas crying foul. This time Variety magazine provided Huppe with a platform to blast radio.

Huppe has co-written an op-ed with recording artist Common to make his claims that FM radio, “with more than 200 million listeners and $17 billion in annual revenue, pays nothing to the people who record the music that is the lifeblood of their business. It never has — not a penny.”

Huppe and Common sing the same Sound Exchange tune that radio’s argument of free promotion has no value because people no longer hear songs on the radio and run to a record store to buy them. “In today’s digital economy, 75% of U.S. recording revenue derives from streaming. The law, the marketplace and simple morality demand that digital platforms must share some of that value with creators. Why should radio be any different? It is, after all, the music that draws their audience.”

Huppe and Common want the people of America to right this wrong by calling their elected representatives. Luckily, everyone in Washington appears to be tied up with their own shenanigans these days. In addition, the NAB has been hard at work aligning both Democrats and Republicans against Huppe’s plan to tax radio, announcing new names to their roster of the Local Radio Freedom Act on a near weekly basis.

Read the Variety piece HERE.


  1. C’mon, guys. Larceny by any other name is still theft – knowing exploitive theft. Dragging The Rolling Stones into the chat is an enormous red herring.
    But wait! It gets worse.
    Unless I’m monitoring radio stations – an arduous and not very satisfying exercise – I have a television streaming service running on its “Canadiana” programs for the rest of the day
    All these fabulous artists playing sensational music with tremendous production values.
    With but a few exceptions, I recognize none of them.
    There are no Canadian radio stations dedicated to these artists because they are so afraid of the product emanating from the elephant to the south.
    No guts. No glory. No grease. Just gore.

  2. The radio stations have gotten away for too long with this larceny. The fact is that 53% of overall radio AirPlay is sourced from sound recordings two and more years ago. Radio calls thes songs “gold” and there is no promotion of value for these plays. Radio knows they are stealing but after so many years of theft and spending only 4% of their operating costs for 67% of the listener air time —-well that’s pretty incredible folks! Anyone who supports this nonsense is unaware of the economic reality of this marketplace.

    • No promotion for gold? Really? Ask the Rolling Stones about that. No one goes to their concerts to hear new music. They go to hear the old stuff. Same with Garth Brooks. Garth owns his old masters, and he isn’t complaining about radio airplay. The artists and labels benefit from airplay whether the music is new or gold. But to call it “larceny” is wrong. Radio pays a performance royalty to license the music for airplay. It’s all done very legally. The organizations radio pays distributes the money to composers. Radio isn’t involved in that part of the process. But the music radio stations play is licensed for broadcast, so they aren’t stealing anything. That’s a fact.

    • Gotta play the “gold” to get the listeners to discover the new and unestablished songs and artists that listeners know nothing about. Radio takes all the risk by playing potential new gold or potential garbage. If it’s garbage the audience moves to another station and hurts the advertisers and ultimately the station. The station takes all the risk and pays ALL the bills to keep itself on the air, staffed, licensed, paying its PRO fees (those Huppe conveniently forgot to mention) and a myriad of other expenses that clueless SJWs, like Barry, don’t know anything about because they’ve never sat in a decision making position of any significance. Why not make it that stations pay the Perfomance Tax and when a music genre hits a lull, as they all eventually do (I.e. hip-hop, rock, etc.) those artists that don’t produce hits pay the Performance Tax back with interest to the stations that lost listeners and revenue airing their bad product. Stations only playing the gold because no new artist will want to payback a station for releasing a dud. You get where this is going Barry? (Probably not)

  3. I would go further to challenge one of the statements made in the variety piece saying that Radio provides no promotional value anymore? ha. “But when was the last time you heard a song on AM/FM radio and went to a record store to buy the album?”

    You’re right.. people don’t hear a song on the Radio and then go buy the album in a record store. Because nobody uses CD’s anymore – and that is where streaming comes in. I am 25, still listen to the radio every day. If I hear a song that I enjoy, then i head to my streaming platforms to download or buy the songs (i.e Spotify or Apple Music.)

    But thats not the only reason people tune into FM broadcast. You have to consider why consumers listen to the radio in the first place. Many times it has less to do with the music and more to do with their favorite on-air talents, Radio shows, or, better-yet, a “best of both world’s” scenario – Favorite type of music in between breaks of their most preferred radio shows. Consumers want escapism, entertainment, and emotional connections with Stations they know and trust (and have built that trust over time. In our major market, there are many morning and afternoon shows that have been around longer than I’ve been alive) and consumers aren’t just listening to those stations for the music I can promise you that. Though yes, again, almost no one goes out and buys a CD. That’s why artists have evolved to selling their music digitally for downloads. However, promotionally Radio STILL delivers. Especially when you take into account the local consumer interactions with artists, their music, promotions for concerts, meet and greets, etc. To say that FM Radio brings no value to these artists just isn’t true, or a lack of perspective. The whole goal of artists creating music is to connect with people.. hard to do when your music is all over the world. Locally, Radio provides a medium to stay close to the consumer, wherever they are, that is emotionally and mentally involved with their preferred stations in their market… as an Artist, why wouldn’t you want that?

  4. My question is why is Michael Huppe the one writing this article. FM stations pay SoundExchange millions of dollars for streaming and if music is used in podcasts or on websites. iHeart, Entercom, Cumulus, and all the other big companies are clients of his. Why is he attacking the very companies that pay him? Where is the RIAA? They are the ones who would benefit from this, not SoundExchange. The foreign-owned record labels are the ones demanding this. The law is pretty clear that SoundExchange collects for digital royalties. Broadcasting isn’t digital. This has nothing to do with him. Even if Congress were to pass a new royalty, who’s to say SoundExchange would even be involved? It makes no sense.

  5. So. Much of the radio argument consists of (and I paraphrase ):
    Because we, generally, fail miserably at generating and marketing our so highly touted services (effective broadcast advertising), we can’t afford to pay the performers of our product (The Music).

    Plus, since stations stick to the smallest number of performers (the hit makers), the rest of the music industry (workers/performers) can gingerly go down Payola Avenue… or suck rocks.
    A parallel can be drawn between music performers and non-unionized, part time, minimum-wage corporate slaves.
    They certainly know what it is to suck rocks.

  6. I have had a continuing issue with Sound Exchange. I own two small FM stations in a very small unrated market. (26.000 population). Since my announcers picked their own music and didn’t keep track of the music in the past. Sound exchange is harassing me for performance information that I cannot provide them. For the past 2 years, we have been tracking our music and send them monthly reports. This is the first year we will go over the minimum $500.00 fee (by $200.00) so far! I have no problem paying them but they are now demanding performance information back to 2014. I thought we had this issued settled in 2018, but they are coming after me again. It’s not the fee, it’s the work involved that has become costly. I have no idea why they find the need to harass a small broadcaster. I’m ready to throw in the towel on streaming.

  7. Where’s the money coming from? Radio’s share of the advertising buy is down to 6%. I’m in a small market (#249)–our national/regional buys have shrunk by 20%. Luckily we’ve been able to replace some of this with local direct–but I just had to pay $5K out of my pocket for the FCC regulatory “fee.”

    What is really disturbing is the DOJ proposal to end the consent agreement. Four PRO’s are two too many, paying several hundred rights holders is simply impossible.

    • Especially when some of those rights holders (GMR!) won’t reveal what rights they supposedly own. Send a bill, demand payment, sue if no payment received. That’s Irving’s business model.

  8. Radio should start charging the performers to play their music, just like advertisers pay for the time. Then radio could go commercial free and performers can spend money to make their money. Common’s last hit was? Guess he’ll need a loan to get some spins. Huppe is a shill and should go back to selling used cars.

  9. Hey Radio Ink – When broadcast radio pays performance royalties to the PROs (performance rights organizations, like ASCAP and BMI), is that a “tax” too? The proposed royalties Huppe wants are in the same category as the fees paid to the PROs, so why do songwriters and publishers deserve a royalty but recording artists and their respective labels don’t?

    There’s precedence for radio to pay a performance royalty (songwriters and publishers) just like there’s a precedence for radio to NOT pay a performance royalty (labels and recording artists). There has to be a solution to this problem that can satisfy all parties, and maybe it’s taking a look back at the potential deal from ten years ago that TheBigA alluded to in the comment above. But I don’t see radio moving at this point if it has so many politicians willing to help keep the status quo.

    • “why do songwriters and publishers deserve a royalty but recording artists and their respective labels don’t?”

      Because artists have many other revenue streams that songwriters don’t, such as touring and being a celebrity. How many songwriters become judges on TV reality shows? Start their own themed restaurants or clothing lines? Artists who receive airplay get to do that. Songwriters don’t.

      The law states that broadcasters must pay a royalty for digital airplay. Digital airplay destroyed the record business. If FM was digital, broadcasters would pay Huppe’s royalty. But it’s not. That’s what the issue is.

  10. What Huppe doesn’t say is FM radio pays SoundExchange millions of dollars in digital music royalties for streaming, so it’s incorrect to say that radio companies pay “nothing.” The radio companies pay what the law requires, which is the same for anyone that plays music. If the RIAA had signed the offer the NAB made to them ten years ago, they’d have received a portion of broadcast royalties. But they turned it down, preferring to wait for Congress. So it’s really all their fault.

    • “…his claims that FM radio, “with more than 200 million listeners and $17 billion in annual revenue, pays nothing to the people who record the music that is the lifeblood of their business.”

      Clearly, he is referring to songs played over the air – which means he’s calling for fairness in the performance royalty fees for songs aired – not streamed – which is paid to performers, not publishers, labels, and writers (the group taken care of by BMI and ASCAP).

      • The fact is those radio stations are following the law, and are paying the people they’re required to pay. Those radio stations have partnerships with labels and artists, all of whom seem happy with what they’re getting from those radio stations. The article mentions the iHeart Music Festival. Next month, if you want the CMA Awards, you’ll hear every artist thank country radio. So clearly there are conflicting messages here. If the artists feel they’re getting ripped off, tell us in radio, and we’ll stop playing their records. But we will follow all the laws, and pay everyone we’re required to pay. If he wanted fairness, they would have accepted the offer the NAB made ten years ago. It was a fair offer, giving them the same amount we already pay songwriters. But they didn’t want fair.


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