Since this website is obviously a champion of independent music, I figured some of you might be interested in what role indies are playing in the FCC's current "payola" investigation. Unfortunately, that role seems to be almost non-existent.
In a letter to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, acting president of
The American Association of Independent Music, Don Rose, laid out the concerns of his organization (which represents over 100 indie labels) regarding the FCC's ongoing payola investigation and proposed working together to develop "best practice" guidelines for the regulation of radio in the years to come. Rose's letter is posted in its entirety below, enjoy.
5 April 2006
The Honorable Kevin Martin, Chairman
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554
Dear Chairman Martin,
The American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) is a trade association representing over 100 independent record labels. The independent sector accounted for approximately 28% of US music sales in 2005 and issues over 80% of the music available to the public.
We understand from recent news reports that the FCC is seeking to settle the payola allegations with the radio broadcasters and that certain financial offers have been proposed in that regard. Although we have noted in our prior correspondence that we were enthusiastic about a thorough investigation, we will be happy to consult with you and/or the other Commissioners on the seriousness of the alleged infractions and to recommend a set of best practices to govern the label/broadcaster relationships going forward.
Most independent labels are small businesses run by entrepreneurs who have been denied equal access to the programming process and decision makers at many radio stations. Any set of best practices envisioned must contemplate access for the true innovators of our industry, so that more format-appropriate music can be considered for airplay.
Without the establishment of standards for best practices, we fear that the excesses are doomed to recur, to the continuing detriment of emerging musical artists, the independent label community, and the listening public.
Moreover, we are concerned that the imposition of fines alone will be perceived as a 'slap on the wrist' and not reflective of the substantial damage caused by payola-like practices.
It is absolutely crucial that any settlement addresses the issue of how to ensure that the vast diversity of American music has a fair opportunity to access the public airwaves. As the chief advocacy group for independent labels, we stand ready to provide the FCC with any information that will help encourage the elimination of any roadblocks to a free and open market.
American Association of Independent Music
99 John St. No. 1018
New York, NY 10038
617 513 0388
CC: A2IM Board of Directors:
Glenn Barros, Concord Records
Lesley Bleakley, Beggars Group
Peter Gordon, Thirsty Ear
Doug Keogh, Roadrunner Records
Alan Meltzer, Wind Up Records
Glenn Morrow, Bar-None
Molly Neuman, Lookout Records
Thomas Silverman, Tommy Boy
CC: FCC Commissioners:
The Honorable Jonathan Adelstein
The Honorable Michael Copps
The Honorable Deborah Tate