Crowley: “Radio is Exploiting Artists”


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.


  1. Apparently, Mr. Crowley’s math is way off. There are more than 20,000 radio stations in America today. That’s ONE of the reasons why no one can get a good rate for commercials, why there have been so many layoffs and firings and why commercial loads have become so excessive. iHeart owns under 850 stations today and just recently sold off two in the market I work in for pennies on what they paid for them.

  2. Once again, a poster actually refers to a Democrat as a Communist. Right wingers don’t understand what communists and socialists are. Please look it up. As far as the 6 biggest radio companies that own 2000 of the 10,000 stations, those 2000 are generally the biggest radio stations in America. It’s much easier to make money at $200 an ad than $20.

    • In 1975, in Dayton, Ohio (market 45 then), a top rated station could fetch $275 for a morning drive add. Today, Dayton is market 64. You’re lucky if a top rated station can get $80 a spot. Because of the FACT that there are now not 10,000 but over 20,000 radio stations in America, no one’s making rate. That is what’s causing excessive commercial loads.

  3. Any artists who feel they’re being exploited are welcome to tell us so. Crowley doesn’t represent any artists. He represents the recording industry and the major labels. The major labels spend millions of dollars promoting their music and artists to radio stations nationally. If any of them feel exploited, they should say so. But they won’t because they want free airplay. My inbox is filled with emails every day from labels and artists begging for free airplay and coverage. None of them say they’re being exploited.

    The person who is exploiting artists is Joe Crowley. He’s using them to get money and attention for his organization. It’s shameful behavior, but to be expected as a former member of congress.

  4. Crowley will say anything for his fat fee and if Jerry Adler approves of the fee/tax, is it any surprise…..all these phonies should be wearing the AOC dress–tax the rich and who cares about the consequences. They are all a bunch of extreme socialist

  5. Using a digital platform to measure digital use of media is in and of itself questionable. The value of over-the-air content continues to be the fact that it is available to audiences via an over-the-air system that does not require a monthly investment in wifi or usage charges.

  6. Radio is, and always has been, a free promotional tool for recording artists. This is an objective fact. Anything argued to the contrary is nothing more than tortured logic. Mic drop, hard stop.

    • Lol…you beat me to the punch, R M.

      Yes, this is the idiot who let himself be trounced by a child-like, Communist bartender. Which makes me wonder, actually: Who’s the dumber one, AOC…or Crowley?!?!

      Anyway, free airplay + exposure = exploitation, Joey? Maybe it’s YOU who is exploiting the artists, taking your fat fee from them, for something that has NEVER passed out of Congress.

      The whole lot of them are one big clown show!

      • Robert…for Crowley and AOC, two turds at the bottom of an outhouse are equally offal…and Crowley forgets radio airplay helped many artists get where they are…talking about biting the hand feeding them; greed has no boundaries.


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