That was the accusation from musicFIRST Chairman, former Congressman Joe Crowley, during a press briefing Monday morning. Crowley also says radio is no longer where consumers go to discover music, it’s now streaming services Pandora and Spotify. And, he says, the NAB does not represent local radio.
Crowley is hoping Congress passes what is called the American Music Fairness Act, which currently only has 13 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives. Crowley announced on Monday that House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler supports the AMFA and could decide to move it forward. While the NAB’s Local Radio Freedom Act has support from over 200 members of Congress, it is only a resolution. There doesn’t seem to be any plan to move the LRFA forward as actual legislation.
On Monday, Crowley shared results from a musicFIRST online poll of 1,455 American adults, using SurveyMonkey on August 30th and 31st. The musicFIRST survey, according to Crowley, says that 45% of Americans now discover music from Streaming services while 21% find their music on radio.
This chart here is from the 2020 Infinite Dial report produced by Edison Research and Triton Digital. It paints a much different story. Edison and Triton surveyed over 3,000 Americans for their research.
Crowley also took specific aim at iHeartMedia and Cumulus and may be trying to pit the bigger radio groups against the smaller ones. He said HR 4130 protects smaller radio stations by only charging them $10 per year. And, he accused the bigger companies like iHeart and Cumulus of “banking billions of dollars every year.” He said they can afford to pay, they just don’t want to and they are misleading Congress. Crowley did not say exactly what the bigger companies should be paying.
After Crowley’s press conference, NAB CEO Gordon Smith issued the following statement: “As musicFIRST is well aware, NAB’s door remains open to continue discussions around a holistic solution to this issue that grows the partnership between the music and broadcast industries for another hundred years. It is unfortunate that the record labels’ focus is on gimmicky press conferences and questionable Survey Monkey polling rather than serious conversation.”
Crowley said that the six largest broadcasters own 2,000 radio stations. What he didn’t mention was that there are a total of over 10,000 radio stations in America.
There has not been an organized effort by artists to jump off of radio and try to promote and sell their music through streaming services only. When companies like iHeartMedia get behind a new artist release, at times, they will promote that artist and air that new song every hour on the hour, across every station in America in that particular format.
The radio industry believes the relationship of free promotion on free radio is a successful working relationship for both sides. Crowley said he is fighting for fairness, plain and simple.