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Ben Allison in Congress

Marc Rosenfeld Antunes
Staff Writer / @mcrantunes

For decades, record labels have lobbied Congress to legislate on the subject of paying royalties to labels and performers for radio play of music; today, the US is one of the few nations to pay royalties for radio play to songwriters and music publishers only. But in the past week, decisions have been made, namely by Clear Channel, an immense radio broadcasting company, and Big Machine, a titan of country music recording companies, to settle the issue of royalties and radio outside of government. Clear Channel intends to reshape its business model in response to the increase of the digital streaming market, which was legislated for by government, and very expensive for the broadcasting companies. By settling directly with record labels, broadcasting companies might save money by skipping the federal rate.

Last Wednesday marks one of the first steps towards a changing landscape of the politics of radio. On this day, Congress held a hearing in a House subcommittee concerning the standard issues commonly raised by labels, but more importantly set in the context of the recent developments in the marketplace. Ben Allison, New York City-based bassist, provided a testimony from the perspective of the performers and labels, professionals in the creation of music, supporting not only those rights of the songwriters and publishers, but encouraging government to make responsible policy in the subject of paying royalties to performers and labels when it comes to radio, which, it seems, was not done for internet streaming, since the market is trying to avoid that standard. Perhaps we might be seeing some important developments in government on the topic of radio royalties in the near future.

Aside from presenting himself to Congress, Allison is keeping busy, musically. On the 15th of June, he will be performing at a free concert in New York City with vocalist Joey Arias, his band, and a string section, from 8 to 10 pm, at the Central Park Bandshell on 72nd Street. On the 27th of June, Allison will perform in New Haven, CT, on the occasion of the New Haven Festival of Arts and Ideas. The situation promises to more intimate, and will feature a presentation of poetry. Rendezvous at the Morse Recital Hall, 470 College Street.

Marc Antunes is a student, writer, and critic. Follow him on Twitter.