You've heard all of the panic over file sharing and labels faltering, but what are the REAL issues in the music industry? Consider these four problems that don't get much attention in the music media but that have a huge impact on the industry.
Of course you should get paid when your music is used, but royalty collection companies are crossing the line of idiocy in your name. From trying to collect additional royalties on music usages you are already compensated for (ringtones) to demanding music fans pay for a public performance license for listening to the radio in their stable with their horses, the actions of these companies seem to have more to do with making up for their own financial problems than making sure you get your due.
The problem - aside from the fact that you pay a fee for this service - is that your fans don't know that you have little control over what your royalty collection company does in your name. To them, you're the greedy one. Great impression.
2. Internet Copyright and Royalty Issues
Sure the internet offers lots of options for music promotion, but what licensing regulations should be in place? Who gets to decide what is fair usage? Should labels be able to pull their artists' music off of sites like YouTube against the artists' wishes? Speaking of YouTube, what is a fair royalty for video plays on such a site? How do you balance the need of musicians to be paid for their work with the realistic earning potential (and ability to pay) of sites that host music?
Focusing on fan file sharing turns attention away from the real problem: the inability for music rights holders to hammer out a realistic game plan for licensing and compensation with websites that host and promote music.
Much like the first item on our list, we have a group that is damaging the relationship between musicians and fans, all in the supposed name of their music industry members. Many musicians and labels have spoken out against file sharing lawsuits, but for the RIAA, debate is out of the question. The average music fan doesn't really know enough about the industry to understand that their favorite musician isn't the one going to around suing fans for hundreds of thousands of dollars for sharing music. Their actions don't do much to stop downloading, and they create a bad impression of the music industry with fans.
Also, we don't have any good answer about how these judgements that the RIAA have won will be distributed to musicians. Interesting.
The US is one of the only countries in the world that does not require terrestrial radio stations to pay royalties to performers. A proposal is in place that would change that. The plan includes a sliding scale so that small stations would pay as little as $1,000 per year. Community stations would almost always be exempt.
Unfortunately, the debate over the issue has been controlled by Clear Channel - the Wal-Mart of radio stations - and people who make a lot of money for hosting shows and making radio appearances. They don't want these royalties to be paid because they would lose a lot of money, and they've managed to frame the debate so that they seem to be championing for the little guys. Don't you believe it. Musicians deserve to be paid.