Music Pros demand a piece of Apple’s pie

Some performing rights groups, such as the ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers), BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.) and others, are trying to put the squeeze on online music retailers like Apple and Amazon. They are claiming that the 30- second song samples, streaming radio and music contained in film and TV downloads should be considered public performances, and therefore subject to fees.

The first thing I would like to point out is the issues with charging for the 30- second spots. You don’t get to listen to the whole song; the short samples are there to get you to buy the song. This same practice is used in online print publishing. A writer makes a portion or a “teaser” of his writings available for free to “show you his wares”.

As it would be with written material, it is a bad idea here because it would just cause iTunes to hike prices or drop the samples. Either would result in fewer song sales and smaller checks to the music professionals.

The next problem is their need to put the cost of film and TV downloads on Apple and Amazon. There is a reasonable argument for these particular fees. People are getting their media online more and more, and the artists are not getting paid for these as performances. These are not multi-millionaires, but middle class individuals that need a paycheck as much as anyone else.

The real problem is whom they are going after. If they want to get paid for the download of digital or streaming media, they need to take it up with the streaming radio stations, with the movie studios and TV networks, not iTunes. I don’t begrudge them the paycheck, just who they expect to sign it.

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