You can’t have been in the music business for very long without getting the idea that it’s a round world. We have been an international business almost from the time there was a concept of international trade and cultural exchange. It’s a two way street–there is a well-trodden path from the US abroad and from there and back, especially Canada, the UK, Europe, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, even Texas.
The U.S. government supports American innovators in the artist community through a variety of international treaties and enforcement mechanisms, the U.S. Copyright Office and of course the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (despite some rather unknowledgeable and gratuitous swipes at USPTO senior staff that verged on unintelligible by a member of the music bar who unfortunately was left in the same room as a megaphone. That person should have been thanking the staff and not mistaking the fact that the USPTO has long had significant and important input into copyright policy in the U.S.).
From time to time, I will be posting about international issues of importance to U.S. artists that come up. The first is the prosecution of Google by the European Commission for abuse of monopoly power. This case is important to U.S. artists for a couple of reasons.
1. It is the first time Google has had a serious confrontation with a government that it has not been able to control through vast sums spent on lobbying both directly and of the astroturf variety–see “Mission Creepy“, Public Citizen’s indispensable and exhaustive guide through Google’s labyrinthine network of academics (starting with the Poker Prof himself, Lester Lawrence Lessig III), NGOs (EFF and Public Knowledge), front groups and outright lobbyists.
2. IMPALA has filed a complaint against YouTube (owned by Google) with the European Commission. IMPALA is the trade group representing independent labels in Europe and has a significant degree of experience in fighting anticompetitive moves by a variety of corporations.
3. IMPALA has to a degree adopted the cause of Zoë Keating as an example of the treatment of independent artists by YouTube–and when you read the EC complaint, you will no doubt immediately see the parallels between the complainants in the EC case and the case against YouTube that is yet to be brought.
4. Senator Mike Lee is investigating corruption charges against the Federal Trade Commission that inexplicably failed to prosecute Google in the U.S. despite the recommendation by senior FTC staff that a prosecution be brought. Given the proximity to Google’s many fixers of Washington insider Beth Wilkinson, the outside lawyer who was mysteriously brought in to oversee the FTC’s investigation of Google rather than have that role fulfilled by FTC staff, Senator Lee no doubt has many things to investigate.
Here is the press release from the EC on the prosecution:
Commission sends Statement of Objections to Google on comparison shopping service; opens separate formal investigation on Android
Brussels, 15 April 2015
The European Commission has sent a Statement of Objections to Google alleging the company has abused its dominant position in the markets for general internet search services in the European Economic Area (EEA) by systematically favouring its own comparison shopping product in its general search results pages. The Commission’s preliminary view is that such conduct infringes EU antitrust rules because it stifles competition and harms consumers. Sending a Statement of Objections does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation.
The Commission has also formally opened a separate antitrust investigation into Google’s conduct as regards the mobile operating system Android. The investigation will focus on whether Google has entered into anti-competitive agreements or abused a possible dominant position in the field of operating systems, applications and services for smart mobile devices.
EU Commissioner in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager said: “The Commission’s objective is to apply EU antitrust rules to ensure that companies operating in Europe, wherever they may be based, do not artificially deny European consumers as wide a choice as possible or stifle innovation”.
“In the case of Google I am concerned that the company has given an unfair advantage to its own comparison shopping service, in breach of EU antitrust rules. Google now has the opportunity to convince the Commission to the contrary. However, if the investigation confirmed our concerns, Google would have to face the legal consequences and change the way it does business in Europe.”
“I have also launched a formal antitrust investigation of Google’s conduct concerning mobile operating systems, apps and services. Smartphones, tablets and similar devices play an increasing role in many people’s daily lives and I want to make sure the markets in this area can flourish without anticompetitive constraints imposed by any company.”
Comparison shopping products allow consumers to search for products on online shopping websites and compare prices between different vendors. The preliminary conclusion of the Commission’s investigation opened in November 2010 is that Google gives systematic favourable treatment to its comparison shopping product (currently called ‘Google Shopping’) in its general search results pages, e.g. by showing Google Shopping more prominently on the screen. It may therefore artificially divert traffic from rival comparison shopping services and hinder their ability to compete on the market. The Commission is concerned that users do not necessarily see the most relevant results in response to queries – this is to the detriment of consumers, and stifles innovation. The Commission’s preliminary view is that to remedy such conduct, Google should treat its own comparison shopping service and those of rivals in the same way. Google now has the opportunity to respond to the Commission’s allegations within ten weeks and to then seek a formal hearing. The Commission considers that overall, previous commitment proposals from Google were insufficient to address its competition concerns.
Further details of the Commission’s Statement of Objections on comparison shopping can be found here.
Since 2005, Google has led development of the Android mobile operating system. Android is an open-source system, meaning that it can be freely used and developed by anyone. The majority of smartphone and tablet manufacturers use the Android operating system in combination with a range of Google’s proprietary applications and services. These manufacturers enter into agreements with Google to obtain the right to install Google’s applications on their Android devices. The Commission’s in-depth investigation will focus on whether Google has breached EU antitrust rules by hindering the development and market access of rival mobile operating systems, applications and services to the detriment of consumers and developers of innovative services and products.
Further details of the Commission’s formal investigation of Google in relation to the Android mobile operating system can be found here.
The Commission continues its ongoing formal investigation under EU antitrust rules of other aspects of Google’s behaviour in the EEA, including the favourable treatment by Google in its general search results of other specialised search services, and concerns with regard to copying of rivals’ web content (known as ‘scraping’), advertising exclusivity and undue restrictions on advertisers.
So you can see that this is actually two different antitrust actions–one is a “Statement of Objections” which is an actual prosecution of Google and the other is an announcement that the Commission has launched a new “formal antitrust investigation of Google’s conduct concerning mobile operating systems, apps and services.”
The timing of this prosecution and new investigation suggests that the Commission has an appetite for getting to the bottom of Google’s anticompetitive behavior in a serious way. This is particularly important since the U.S. clearly has no appetite for the same, and Senator Lee will hopefully find out why that is.
What it should say to artists is that the Commission has yet to take up IMPALA’s case. My hunch is that the Commission will look at the IMPALA complaint through a different lens now that the Commission is taking a serious look at Google.
It’s also important to realize that the head of the Commission’s competition authority changed at the end of last year. Google spent years slow walking the investigation through Mr. Almunia, the last competition chief. Mr. Almunia allowed Google to present an unprecedented three settlement proposals in what was apparently an attempt to run out the clock on Mr. Almunia’s term.
Unfortunately for Google, none of those proposals were acceptable to Mr. Almunia and he waived goodbye to his new friend Eric Schmidt with no points on the board for Google.
Here’s a tip that any high school football coach can tell you: If you’re going to run out the clock, be damn sure you win the game.
As we now know through the disclosures by the Wall Street Journal under Freedom of Information Act requests, both Ebay and Amazon had secretly complained to the Federal Trade Commission about Google, which makes the issues involved far more expansive than originally thought.
What happens now from an artist perspective?
–Many more big actors like Ebay and Amazon may come into the EC action as complainants.
–Other countries may decide to come forward now that the EC has shown the way and disclosed the seriousness of Google’s misbehavior.
–States in the United States may take a closer look at whether they have actions they can bring under state competition or unfair trade practices laws.
–IMPALA may receive a very fair hearing.
–Someone may join the EC case as a complainer based on Google abusing its monopoly power in favor of YouTube. Ever seen a video on an artist site listed in Google search results that wasn’t on YouTube?
Remember, the U.S. Senate Antitrust Subcommittee that Senator Lee now chairs previously investigated Google for almost the exact same reasons as Google is now being prosecuted by the Europeans. In fact, Senator Lee himself led a vigorous cross examination of Eric Schmidt on this very subject.
I have to believe Senator Lee feels entirely vindicated by the EC’s action. In fact, he may feel so vindicated that he holds a public hearing on the corruption questions swirling around Google and the FTC.
And that will be a good thing for artists. We’re a long way from YouTube treating artists with the respect that they deserve and we’re a long way from the government no longer being enamored by the crony capitalists like Google and their special interest lobby.
But it’s a step in the right direction and it shows why it’s a good idea for artists to keep an eye on what happens in other countries.
Twilight in the Garden of Good and Evil and Hubris: Google Will Face at Least Two Antitrust Investigations in Europe
Good things come to those who wait
So just relax and wait for fate…
from Love You Madly by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn
According to the Wall Street Journal (EU files formal charges against Google):
European Union regulators formally accused GoogleInc. of violating the bloc’s antitrust laws by abusing its dominance of online search, escalating a long-running case that had stalled for years despite three separate attempts at a settlement.
Wednesday’s move is the first time that any regulator has filed formal antitrust charges against the California search giant, putting the EU in the vanguard of a global debate over the regulation of giant Internet platforms.
In a statement, EU regulators said they had reached the preliminary conclusion that Google “systematically positions and prominently displays its comparison shopping service in its general search results pages, irrespective of its merits.” That conduct started in 2008, the regulators said.
The wheels of justice turn slowly, but they do turn.
According to the Financial Times:
A decision on charges is to be taken by the college of 28 EU commissioners on Wednesday. Some commissioners are concerned that Ms Vestager has, according to one source, restructured and narrowed the case she inherited from her predecessor Joaquín Almunia….[in other words, concerned that the EC had not gone far enough.]
Google supporters feel the commission’s volte-face on a settlement reflected politics rather than an independent assessment. No EU antitrust case has ever been extended to three settlement offers, or been revived after complainants were formally warned that their case is about to be rejected.
There is no question that it should have become increasingly apparent to Google–and this goes to the tippy tippy top of the Leviathan of Mountain View–that Google was never going to be allowed to get away with it like they had in the United States where Google has much greater control over the political environment thanks to Susan Molinari and Rachel Whetstone and a host of others inbetween. So much so that Senator Mike Lee has opened a corruption investigation into how the FTC handled the U.S. version of the European case–a case that was collaboratively built by both U.S. an E.C. regulators, and investigation that will no doubt include both those names.
According to Reuters,
In a statement, Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said the U.S. tech giant, which dominates Internet search engines globally, had been sent a Statement of Objections — effectively a charge sheet — to which it can respond.
“I am concerned that the company has given an unfair advantage to its own comparison shopping service, in breach of EU antitrust rules,” she said. “If the investigation confirmed our concerns, Google would have to face the legal consequences and change the way it does business in Europe.”
The Commission, whose control of antitrust matters across the wealthy 28-nation bloc gives it a major say in the fate of global corporations, can fine firms up to 10 percent of their annual sales — or a penalty of over $6 billion for Google.
If it finds that companies are abusing a dominant market position, the EU regulator can also demand sweeping changes to their business practices, as it did with U.S. software giant Microsoft in 2004 and chip-maker Intel in 2009.
She announced the moves on the eve of a high-profile visit to the United States, following five years of investigation and abortive efforts to strike a deal with Google by her Spanish predecessor, Joaquin Almunia, who handed over the politically charged dossier to the Danish liberal in November.
There has even been Members of the European Parliament raise the idea that Google should be broken up–one place to start would be to require Google divest itself of its YouTube data honeypot that masquerades as a video platform.
Anyone who has ever dealt with YouTube would likely give a loud “Huzzah!” to that idea.
There will be reams about this written in the coming days and weeks, but remember this about Google.
Masters of the Universe don’t have the best track record. If you said to a roomful of MBAs in the 1980s that in a few years time Wall Street darlings Drexel Burnham Lambert would be bankrupt and Drexel’s junk bond king Michael Milken would be in prison, you would have been laughed out of the room.
David Lowery called attention to Big Radio’s attempt to get around the payola statutes (“FCC Payola Lanes: Big Broadcasters Ask FCC for Payola Waiver“) and highlighted the need for public commentary on the application to the FCC by Clear Channel & Co. to get a legal waiver of the payola laws. As David wrote:
Paying for airplay is not actually illegal. As long as a radio station announces to its audience that the track you are about to play (or just played) is”sponsored” and who has “sponsored” it, no penalty.
Although this requirement is weak, it has largely ended (blatant) payola**. Having to announce this puts label, artist and radio station in awkward and unflattering position.
So big broadcasters are asking for a waiver that would change the way this rule works. They propose phasing out this requirement in two steps. First they want to lump all the “we accepted payola” announcements into a single announcement broadcast 3 times a day. The idea here is you wouldn’t really know you were listening to a payola song. Even if you heard the announcement you wouldn’t necessarily be able to put the sponsorship with the song.
The broadcasters helpfully provide an example announcement:
“Some of the music [and/or] sports programming that you hear on this station is sponsored [or paid for] by Interscope, Sony, Universal Records, or the Washington Nationals. For additional information, please visit our website at http://www.WXYZ.com or contact the station at 12345 Main Street, Washington, DC 20036, email@example.com, or 202-555-1234.”
The public comments opposing this payola waiver are starting to come in. Here’s the RIAA’s opposition filing which in part cites to the same language that David found particularly ridiculous:
Note that the example “once a day” notice proposed by the broadcasters states: “Some of the music [and/or] sports programming that you hear on this station is sponsored by [or paid for] by Interscope, Sony, Universal Records, or the Washington Nationals. For additional information, please visit our website at http://www.wxyz.com or contact the station at . . . .” This does not tell the public (i) what specific programming was paid for, (ii) who paid for what programming, and (iii) when such programming aired. It also leaves to chance whether the user that heard the sponsored material would ever hear the vague announcement about that programming if it airs much later that day.
Because the proposal is highly likely to cause less, not more, of the public to know about otherwise invisible sponsorships, it would undermine the entire intent of the law. Allowing a small segment of the public to learn once a day only that a broadcaster received some promotional consideration from someone for some programming played that day does nothing to further transparency or increase the amount of useful information received by the public. Contrary to the broadcasters’ statements, this proposal is not in the public interest.
Moreover, permitting broadcasters to create roadblocks to effective transparency may give them greater incentive to unfairly demand free labor from artists to promote the radio station and/or to unfairly demand payment from record labels to have particular music played on the station. This unfairness has been well documented. The proposed waiver would help broadcasters hide such unfair practices by shining less light on when they receive compensation. It would also help them create further market distortions that benefit themselves. Having effective rules that make such behavior transparent to the public helps guard against such abuse of market power.
Given the broadcasters’ reaction to fair pay for radio play, Big Radio’s yearning for free labor requires no introduction. There will undoubtedly be more opposition filings, but this one highlights some important facts.
Congressman Jerry Nadler and Marsha Blackburn, John Conyers and Ted Deutch will introduce legislation on Monday that responds to all of you who supported artist pay for radio play. The thousands and thousands of you who signed the #irespectmusic petition, the hundreds of you who attended #irespectmusic events, the hundreds of you who responded to the Copyright Office’s request for comments on the Music Licensing Study and the “NABtweets” campaign on Grammy night, and who supported the Turtles fight against Pandora and SiriusXM. All the bands who have hosted #irespectmusic shows around the country, all the fans who wore the “#irespectmusic AND I VOTE!” button at election time.
Janita, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Blake Morgan and Tommy Merrill
Tommy Merrill, Rep. Jerry Nadler, Blake Morgan and Janita
Janita, Rep. Ted Deutch, Blake Morgan and Tommy Merrill
Some of you joined this movement recently, some of you were around for the last effort at a performance rights act, some of you have been in it since we all started fighting Pandora’s end run around fair treatment for artists with the Internet Radio Fairness Act in 2012. All of you know in your hearts that we all have to stand up to the multinational mass media corporations like Clear Channel and Google, the fast buck artists like Pandora and Spotify, and the underhanded data merchants like YouTube.
But the one thing that we could do right now to put fair compensation directly into the pockets of artists is to achieve the idea that #irespectmusic has been fighting for–pass the Fair Play Fair Pay Act.
Some of you were there last October at New York’s Bitter End at the historic first #irespectmusicandIVOTE! event and heard Congressman Nadler’s stirring speech foreshadowing the Fair Play Fair Pay Act 2015.
You were there to let the government know that you expect fair treatment for artists and songwriters. You were there when Zoë Keating stood up to YouTube, when Jann Arden stood up against Big Radio, when Blake Morgan stood up against Spotify, when David Lowery rewrote the narrative that Big Tech imposes on the world and when Gloria Steinem said artist rights are human rights.
We have to thank Reps. Jerry Nadler, Marsha Blackburn, John Conyers and Ted Deutch who have been dedicated to this issue for years, and of course to SoundExchange who has also carried the flag for all of us to help get this bill introduced.
We all know that getting a performance royalty on terrestrial radio is a very old story–90 years old. The music industry establishment has been fighting the broadcasting establishment over this issue for a very long time. And face it–the broadcasters have been winning this fight for a very long time.
Not only are we fighting the broadcasters this time, we are also fighting Pandora, Google, Apple, the Consumer Electronics Association–everyone who wants to deny artists fair pay for radio play. These companies have many tentacles into our music industry establishment and many pressure points they can bring to bear.
So why should we believe that this time it will be different than it has been for the last 90 years? The biggest reason is that this time it’s not just the establishment–this time it includes you. You said here am I, send me. It includes you every time you get a friend to sign a petition, every time you use the #irespectmusic hashtag. Every time you pick up the phone and ask your representative what they are doing for artist rights to save our culture. Every time you support a local artist at an #irespectmusic show.
Because here’s the reality–if past is prologue, the historical record shows conclusively that the establishment can’t get it done alone. We all have to pull together and as long as all artists are treated fairly, that is exactly what we should do.
But today, my friends, is your day. Your fearless rejection of technodeterminism and fast buckery and your vocal respect for culture and creativity has helped these representatives be effective.
Your unequivocal and unflagging support for the human rights of artists is what makes this day possible. It’s why I write this blog, it’s why we fight. We all have this in common.
True, we have a long way to go to make this bill a reality. But I’m looking at the Fair Play Fair Pay Act and it looks pretty damn real to me.
And for today, that’s good enough.
Tonight lift a glass to Satchmo, Count, Duke and Ella, Buddy Rich, Billie Holiday, Joe Cocker, Charlie Parker, Ian McLagan, John Coltrane and all the others who didn’t make it this far. And to all those who did like our inspiration Aretha Franklin, and for all those yet to arrive.
And give yourselves a hand.
Tomorrow we fight, but tonight we celebrate. Because you believed.
Because we all did.
I’ve often tried to get you to think of YouTube as a data honeypot masquerading as a video site. This is kind of a “dog on a mirror” idea for most people and it’s not easy to get your mind wrapped around. So check this out.
Dale Kunkel, Professor Emeritus of Communication at the University of Arizona, wrote an op-ed for the San Jose Mercury News (the New York Times of Silicon Valley) exposing how Google uses the YouTube for Kids app to collect data on kids that Google couldn’t collect any other way.
The mobile app YouTube for Kids charts new territory in the digital exploitation of children. Advertising pays the bills for media products old and new, and caveat emptor has its place with adults. But children are different.
Google, which owns the app, clearly took off its kid gloves in designing the commercial side of this new product. Now the feds have been asked to clean up the mess.
The Washington Post tells us that (“YouTube Kids runs ads that would be illegal on television“):
In the 1970s, federal regulators created rules to curb the amount of advertising during children’s programs. The rules restricted shows from promoting products within their programs and prohibited advertisers from creating entire shows out of their products. On YouTube Kids, dozens of videos are created by Lego, along with many user-generated videos focused on Lego products.
“YouTube Kids is the most hyper-commercialized media environment for children I have ever seen,” said Dale Kunkel, professor of communication at the University of Arizona. “Many of these advertising tactics are considered illegal on television.”
For decades, advertising to children on television has been held to tougher rules than commercials for adults. Federal regulators have long been concerned that kids are more vulnerable to marketing and have a tougher time distinguishing between an ad and a show.
Now with new apps, such as YouTube Kids, hosting videos aimed at children,the same rules aren’t being applied, opening up children to more advertising than ever before, according to a group of children’s advocacy and public interest groups. In a complaint to be filed to the Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday, the groups alleged YouTube Kids, owned by Google, contains a host of videos created by McDonald’s, Fisher Price, American Greetings and other companies aimed at getting children to buy their products.
If you’ve been following the Wall Street Journal’s coverage of “Googlegate” and Senator Mike Lee’s corruption investigation into Google’s political influence over the Federal Trade Commission, you may not be relieved to know that the FTC has opened an investigation into YouTube’s deceptive advertising practices. In other coverage on the YouTube for Kids scandal, the Washington Post reports (“FTC to Review Complaint that YouTube Kids Over Advertises to Children“)
The Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday said it will review complaints by consumer groups that YouTube Kids is a hyper-commercial app with junk food and toy ads flooding the video service.
Several consumer advocacy groups filed a complaint with the commission saying YouTube’s free app that launched in February contains too many ads that young children can’t distinguish from entertainment. On television, federal rules keep advertising to a minimum on children’s programs but on the app and others like it, the groups say those rules are disregarded.
The FTC said in a statement that it received the complaint and “will review the concerns raised by these groups.”
Anything change your mind about YouTube as a data honeypot?
As Professor Kunkel concluded:
[Google] needs to come to its senses and scrub this product clean of its many unfair and deceptive advertising tactics. If it doesn’t, the FTC will soon inform them that loopholes aren’t allowed where child protection is concerned.
Part of Tidal’s business model relies on artists being able to grant exclusives. The concept of an exclusive requires property rights that are respected by other platforms in the channel.
Imagine if Showtime began showing rips of Game of Thrones day and date with its HBO release. Forget that HBO would sue them and win. The actors, screenwriters, producers and the vast below the line personnel would think twice about working for Showtime in the future.
And that’s exactly what should happen to YouTube.
Beyonce released “Die With You” on Tidal as an exclusive. Everyone at YouTube knows that it was intended to be an exclusive just like everyone at YouTube knows that YouTube could keep the track from being uploaded to YouTube if YouTube wanted to do that.
YouTube has worked hard at getting the world to accept the concept of “user generated content” as some kind of great cultural event–even, when like “Die With You”, there isn’t anything particularly “user generated” about it, unless you call a one-to-one rip of Beyonce’s track that was distributed in clear violation of Beyonce’s rights “user generated”.
And even if you do accept that someone should have the ability to make a private copy for their own personal use, that’s not what’s happening here. These are copies that are distributed by YouTube for profit–copies that in this particular case feather YouTube’s nest.
Make no mistake, YouTube does not like anything about Tidal and they don’t like anything about the shift away from advertising supported services. Not only does YouTube rely on advertising, data profiling and scraping from the YouTube data honeypot, Google serves ads on both Spotify and Pandora.
So Google is incentivized to use YouTube like a sword to insult and undermine anyone who challenges their business model. This is why Google hides behind a tortured interpretation of the DMCA notice and takedown in Google’s notice and shakedown version of the law. As we saw with the indie labels and again with Zoë Keating, YouTube will withhold the use of its take down tools if it helps them gain commercial advantage in an unrelated area tied to “notice and shakedown”, such as their own subscription service.
Suing Google to try to change this is playing into Google’s hands. That’s what they want you to do, and they have shown that they will spend any amount of money on litigation to perpetuate the “notice and shakedown.” Litigation does not work well with Google and neither does law enforcement as we have seen with the populist Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood who Google is trying to muzzle for having the audacity to challenge Google, the new Enron.
What does work with Google is anything that changes their behavior. And the great news is that Beyonce and the other artists at Tidal and their supporters have a very simple way to address YouTube’s failure to resolve their moral hazard.
Don’t do business with them. Withdraw from everything associated with Google–YouTube, Music Key, YouTube Video Awards, all of it. Tell your sponsors that you demand that the sponsor controls where Google serves their ads. Tell your music publishers and record companies that you don’t want your songs or recordings or videos appearing on YouTube at any price. No lyrics in Google search.
There’s a lot you can do. The first step is realizing that what happened to Beyonce happened because Google let it happen, not because of some “fans” who may well have been YouTube employees. Just ask yourself, who benefits if subscription music fails?
We have been sold a bill of goods about converting fans into subscribers for years. This is like the mass psychology phenomenon of the Great Disappointment. The Great Disappointment is what happens in a cult when the second coming doesn’t happen on the appointed day and at the appointed hour (specifically “Millerism” for those reading along).
The cult of streaming has been promising the second coming for too long now. We don’t believe it. What you have been seeing in the collision of rationalization and reality that has caused both the Pandora and Spotify brands to tank is “The Great Streaming Disappointment”. And now everyone should realize that they’ve been had by the thimblerig operators in the streaming cult.
There is something we can do about it and we can do it right now. Just tell them you’re tired of being a useful idiot.
Tell them no. Because it’s about respect.
Rumor has it that there’s going to be legislation introduced in this session of Congress to finally pay artists for radio play. With this in mind, an organization has sprung up called the “Free Radio Alliance.”
The Free Radio Alliance webpage greets you with this:
Free, local radio stations are the soundtrack of American life, delivering tremendous variety and opportunities for consumers to listen to radio anywhere, any time. The Free Radio Alliance and its more than 400 members think that’s a very good thing.
What follows is a very long list of station call letters and the names of a few organizations. The impression that the Free Radio Alliance wants you to take away is that all of these individual stations have signed up to stop artist pay for radio play.
First of all, I suspect that if you asked the people who work at these stations what they thought–and they weren’t afraid of retaliation firings from their bosses which would surely follow–most of them at music stations would like to see artists paid and probably would have liked that to happen years ago.
But the real astroturf aspect of this organization and it’s “more than 400 members” comes out when you compare the station call letters to the ownership groups that control these stations. Remember–“IHeartMedia” used to be called “Clear Channel”.
We took a sampling of these stations in a few key states–and I think you’ll see the trend here. Big Radio shamelessly trying to pretend they’re not Big Radio.
|California||KCSN-FM||California State University, Northridge|
|California||KBBU-FM||Alfredo Plascencia (Lazer Licenses, LLC)|
|California||WUSN-FM (Chicago)||CBS Radio|
|California||WAOK-AM (Atlanta)||CBS Radio|
|California||WVEE-FM (Atlanta)||CBS Radio|
|California||WZGC-FM (Atlanta)||CBS Radio|
|California||KOZT-FM||California Radio Partners, Inc.|
|Colorado||WBZ-AM (Boston)||CBS Radio|
|Colorado||WBMX-FM (Boston)||CBS Radio|
|Colorado||WBBM-AM (Chicago)||CBS Radio|
|Colorado||WJMK-FM (Chicago)||CBS Radio|
|Colorado||WSCR-AM (Chicago)||CBS Radio|
|Colorado||WXRT-FM (Chicago||CBS Radio|
|Colorado||WBCN-AM (Charlotte)||Beasley Broadcast Group|
|Colorado||WODS-FM (Boston)||CBS Radio|
|Colorado||KBNO-AM||Latino Communications, LLC|
|Georgia||WEKL-FM||Aloha Station Trust (divestiture trust for iHeartMedia, Inc.)|
|Georgia||WMOG-FM||Brunswick Station Trust LLC (Trust created by Clear Channel)|
|Georgia||WBFA-FM||Aloha Station Trust (divestiture trust for iHeartMedia, Inc.)|
|Georgia||KLLI-FM (Texas)||CBS Radio|
|Georgia||KiKK-AM (Texas)||CBS Radio|
|Georgia||KILT-FM (Texas)||CBS Radio|
|Georgia||WZPT-FM (Pittsburgh)||CBS Radio|
|Georgia||WAEC-AM||Beasley Broadcast Group|
|Georgia||WWWE-AM||Beasley Broadcast Group|
|Georgia||WRDW-AM||Beasley Broadcast Group|
|Georgia||WKXC-FN||Beasley Broadcast Group|
|Georgia||WHHD-FM||Beasley Broadcast Group|
|Georgia||WGUS-FM||Beasley Broadcast Group|
|Georgia||WGAC-FM/AM||Beasley Broadcast Group|
|Georgia||WDRR-FM||Beasley Broadcast Group|
|Georgia||WCHZ-FM||Beasley Broadcast Group|
|Georgia||WLYG-FM||Joy Christian Communications, Inc.|
|New York||WGY-AM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|New York||WGY-FM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|New York||WKKF-FM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|New York||WOFX-AM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|New York||WPYX-FM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|New York||WRVE-FM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|New York||WTRY-FM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|New York||WRVE-HD2||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|New York||WAXQ-FM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|New York||WHTZ-FM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|New York||WKTU-FM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|New York||WLTW-FM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|New York||WOR-AM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|New York||WWPR-FM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|New York||WBWZ-FM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|New York||WCTW-FM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|New York||WHUC-AM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|New York||WJIP-AM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|New York||WKIP-AM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|New York||WPKF-FM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|New York||WRNQ-FM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|New York||WRWB-FM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|New York||WRWD-FM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|New York||WZCR-FM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|New York||WDVI-FM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|New York||WHAM-AM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|New York||WHTK-AM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|New York||WKGS-FM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|New York||WNBL-FM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|New York||WAIO-FM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|New York||WVOR-FM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|New York||WBBS-FM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|New York||WHEN-AM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|New York||WSYR-AM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|New York||WWHT-FM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|New York||WYYY-FM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|New York||WBSU-FM||State University of New York|
|New York||WTRW-FM (Pennsylvania)||Bold Gold Media Group, LP|
|New York||WJIV-FM||Christian Broadcasting System, Ltd.|
|New York||WGR-AM||Cumulus Media|
|New York||WLKK-FM||Entercom Communications|
|New York||WKSE-FM||Entercom Communications|
|New York||WWWS-AM||Entercom Communications|
|New York||WBEN-AM||Entercom Communications|
|New York||WTSS-FM||Entercom Communications|
|New York||WWKB-AM||Entercom Communications|
|New York||WBEE-FM||Entercom Communications|
|New York||WBZA-FM||Entercom Communications|
|New York||WCMF-FM||Entercom Communications|
|New York||WPXY-FM||Entercom Communications|
|New York||WROC-FM/AM||Entercom Communications|
|New York||WLPO-FM (Illinois)||La Salle County Broadcasting Corp.|
|New York||WAJK-AM (Illinois)||La Salle County Broadcasting Corp.|
|New York||WXNY-FM||Univision Radio|
|New York||WADO-AM||Univision Radio|
|New York||WQBU-FM||Univision Radio|
|Pennsylvania||WZWW-FM||Southern Belle, LLC; Kristin Cantrell|
|Pennsylvania||WQYX-FM||First Media Radio|
|Pennsylvania||WMRF-FM||Southern Belle, LLC; Kristin Cantrell|
|Pennsylvania||WLAK-FM||Southern Belle LLC; Kristin Cantrell|
|Pennsylvania||WIEZ-FM||Southern Belle LLC; Kristin Cantrell|
|Pennsylvania||WZDD-FM||First Media Radio|
|Pennsylvania||WTEL-AM||Beasley Broadcast Group|
|Pennsylvania||WWDB-AM||Beasley Broadcast Group|
|Pennsylvania||WTUZ-FM||WTUZ Radio, Inc.|
|Texas||KRIA-FM||Rhattigan Broadcasting (Texas), LP|
|Texas||KKYN-FM||Rhattigan Broadcasting (Texas), LP|
|Texas||KVOP-AM||Rhattigan Broadcasting (Texas), LP|
|Texas||KREW-AM||Rhattigan Broadcasting (Texas), LP|
|Texas||KBTS-FM||Kbest Media, LLC|
|Texas||KBST-FM/AM||Kbest Media, LLC|
|Virginia||WHBT-FM (North Carolina)||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|Virginia||WSNZ-FM||Aloha Station Trust (divestiture trust for iHeartMedia, Inc.)|
|Washington, D.C.||WASH-FM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|Washington, D.C.||WBIG-FM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|Washington, D.C.||WIHT-FM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|Washington, D.C.||WMZQ-FM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|Washington, D.C.||WWDC-FM||iHeartMedia, Inc.|
|Washington, D.C.||WTGB-FM||CBS Radio|
|Washington, D.C.||KZJK-FM||CBS Radio|
|Washington, D.C.||WCCO-AM (Minnesota)||CBS Radio|
|Washington, D.C.||WWJ-AM (Michigan)||CBS Radio|
|Washington, D.C.||WXYT-AM (Michigan)||CBS Radio|
|Washington, D.C.||WYCD-FM (Michigan)||CBS Radio|