The Democrats’ frontal assault on talk radio has failed, as planned. They knew the Fairness Doctrine—their attempt to balance the radio airwaves with federally-subsidized progressive talk, i.e. “censorship”—would fail because there aren’t yet enough Americans willing to surrender more of the First Amendment. Emphasis on the “yet”—but they’re working on it.
As we now know, the spontaneous coordinated personal attack on Rush Limbaugh was orchestrated by senior Democratic strategists Rahm Emanuel, James Carville and Paul Begala. Rush only accelerated their timetable with his politically precise statement, “I hope the president fails [to kill capitalism and institute socialism]”—a statement that every Republican should, just as every conservative already does, agree with. If not, you’re in the wrong party. Those who are seduced by the spirit of bipartisanship, what is it that you believe Obama wants conservatives to succeed in?— other than defeat, of course.
But radio is not out of the woods yet. There are a number of cleverly-devised legislative threats to this American-owned-and-operated industry—the most immediate of which is a crippling new radio tax, commonly called a Performance Tax. Let’s start with the basic economic relationship between radio and the record labels. From the very beginning it has been very simple: “free play, free promotion.” Radio stations played the music for free and the record labels enjoyed the free promotion of their product. Consumers would hear a song on the radio, and if they liked it, go out and buy the record, attend the concert and buy the merchandise. Everybody made money. The label would have increased sales, the artist would book more gigs, and radio could adapt the mix any way they wanted to attract more listeners, and thereby more advertisers.
The only people not getting the proper remuneration were the composers, publishers, and writers, since they couldn’t make anything off a concert appearance. But this was worked out with the creation of royalty collection companies like ASCAP, BMI and SESAC, who then collected money from the radio stations and distributed it to the creative forces behind the musical works.
Then the Internet changed the whole world.
Today, instead of the artists going on tour to sell records, they sell records to generate publicity so they can go on tour. The record labels make the money on the songs, not the artists, forcing the artists on the road. Today, if you don’t tour, you don’t make real money.