Dionne Warwick: Radio stations should pay to play music too

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Dionne Warwick has become a Twitter sensation since going live last year. Dionne has kept us in stitches with her nicknames for people like Billie Eilish (William Eyelash) and the unlikely friendship she struck up with Teyana Taylor, whom she wants to play her in a biopic. Now, Dionne has written an op-ed for USA Today, calling for radio to pay for play to artists whose music that they are making millions off of. In the op-ed Dionne breaks down why radio stations should pay to play music and why not doing so is unfair and unethical. Below a few highlights via Yahoo!:

I’ve seen a lot of changes in the industry since I got my start – most good, some bad – but disappointingly one thing has remained the same: Radio stations still aren’t paying artists for their work.

These stations – most of which are now owned by a few multibillion dollar media corporations – get away with using musicians’ work to bring listeners to their stations, allowing them to charge advertisers huge amounts of money, without ever paying performers a penny.

And here’s the worst part: It’s all legal. Our outdated laws – made decades ago in very different times and kept intact today by lobbyists for the biggest corporate broadcasters – say all this is OK.

But it’s not OK. It’s unfair and unjust – and it’s time for things to change.

For too long, I accepted this status quo. Radio stations would play my chart-topping music without offering me any compensation for it, and I would frustratingly think, “I suppose this is just how it is and always will be.”

Radio stations once were able to hide behind the idea that they were virtuously exposing musicians to the masses, spurring sales of physical recordings and concert tickets. This isn’t the case anymore.

First, artists cannot depend solely on record sales for income – in the first half of 2020, only 7% of music revenue came from physical sales – and the pandemic proved we cannot rely on concerts and touring either.

Second, hardly anyone is discovering new music through traditional FM/AM radio stations these days. A recent survey shows a majority of Americans use streaming services like Sirius XM or Spotify, or digital platforms like YouTube or TikTok to discover new artists and songs. Recently, both old fans and new have found me on Twitter, bringing my music and my passion for making it to great new audiences.

[From Yahoo!]

I absolutely agree with Auntie Dionne. Most radio stations are conglomerates of multimedia corporations and therefore they can definitely afford to pay musicians. I also agree that if streaming platforms can pay artists, again so can radio stations. Anyways with mostly everything going digital, I personally believe in the next 20 years or so radio stations will be obsolete or will evolve into a new media. I also agree that it is unethical for radio stations to have free reign over artists’ content without having to pay for it. I get flagged on Youtube or kicked off of Twitter when I play a 30 second clip of an artist because of copyright infringement. I also like how Dionne points out that radio stations used to be able to hide behind the lie that they were exposing artists but most people don’t listen to radio these days. I haven’t actively listened to radio in damn near two decades. All in all, I can get behind Dionne’s campaign for artists getting paid for their work. It is time that the playing field is leveled.

Clive Davis Pre-Grammy Gala 2019

Dionne Warwick at the Pre-GRAMMY Gala and GRAMMY Salute to Industry Icons Honoring Sean "Diddy" Combs

Photos credit: Avalon.red and Getty

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21 Responses to “Dionne Warwick: Radio stations should pay to play music too”

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  1. Becks1 says:

    I…….had no clue radio stations did not pay artists. So if I turn on my local hits radio station, and they’re playing Taylor or Billie or whoever – that person isn’t getting paid? I had no idea that was how it worked. And the same is true for SiriusXM? They don’t pay for the music?

    That’s just insane to me. I’m glad Dionne is speaking out, hopefully more artists will join her.

    • SarahCS says:

      Same, I’m now wondering what happens here in the UK. I assumed every time a song got played the artist got £.

    • Jc says:

      She is correct that artists do not get paid for their songs being played. It is the songwriters that get paid. Anytime a song is played on TV, radio, streaming-a royalty (via BMI or ASCAP) to the listed songwriters for that song. Venues pay to BMI and ASCAP too. Then read how Dolly bought a building as she was making a lot of money as the songwriter to I Will Always Love You. Songwriting not performing is the real money.

      • marci-m says:

        Exactly: So if you hear ‘Walk on By’, or ‘Do You Know the Way to San Jose’, by the Divine Dionne Warwick, she does not get a penny, but the songwriter, Burt Bachrach makes the $$$. Burt was a seminal songsmith, but Dionne raised his music to the next level.

  2. Lotta says:

    Here in Sweden radio stations pay, as does TV-stations If they use a song.
    I thought it was like that every where.

  3. Merricat says:

    There was a time when radio airplay could make or break a musical artist’s career, but it’s been years since that was true. Commercial radio is a bit like organized crime, in my opinion; everyone is paying in just to maintain business as usual.

    • lucy2 says:

      Definitely – as a kid in the 80s, we all listened to the pop/top 40 stations, and if you loved a song, you’d buy the cassette tape (I still remember getting my first CD in high school!).
      I haven’t listened to regular radio in years, but know several people who still do. The commercials drive me crazy.
      Those stations probably made bank back in the day though – and got all of their content for (almost) free. It’s a pretty messed up system.
      Looks like in the US, they do pay a royalty to the songwriter only, but not the performer(s) or producers.

  4. Soupie says:

    Those shows are gonna sell out quickly! If I were still in Southern California I would definitely go see her. Her peak is my high school years. I wouldn’t be able to get through I Say A Little Prayer without bawling my eyes out so there’s that LOL. Walk on By? Anyone Who Had A Heart? Too many to mention! I’m teary eyed already.

    As for the radio stations, I could have sworn that back in those days (the 60’s and 70’s – prehistoric LOL) radio stations had to pay a royalty. It wasn’t much, but I remember hearing something about it. Maybe that’s wrong. Now I’ll have to look it up. I just seem to remember hearing a story that a radio station DJ got in trouble for not paying a royalty. Anyway, I believe this ish. Remember back when they stated calling music “units?” Musicians were really pissed about it and still should be.

    William Eyelash? Love it. 😀

    • Robert says:

      Back in the day you had to be signed to a music company to get your music out there. You couldn’t do it any other way. So the companies went around to all the stations and gave them records to play to get the music out there. If you weren’t on the radio no one heard you. In fact some of the companies paid the radio stations to play a certain song a lot. The companies were in total control of who had a hit and who didn’t. Today most artists have their own studios in their homes. And they can release new music a lot of ways.

  5. RafOllie says:

    OMG! In the Netherlands a special agency makes sure royalties are being collected and given to the artists. No wonder artists in the States are angry about all the streaming services. All though their royalty systems are cr*p as well.

  6. Nancy says:

    According to a quick Google search both songwriters & artists are paid royalties every time a radio station plays their music.

  7. Catwoman says:

    She stayed in a hotel I worked at several years ago and was a total bitch who made everyone’s lives miserable for the 24 hours she was there. I’ve met dozens of celebrities while I worked with and the vast majority (George Carlin, Bill Murray, Jerry Garcia, etc) we’re pretty nice. Not her.

  8. RoyalBlue says:

    I don’t believe this is true.

  9. You Know Me says:

    She really is an awful person. I’ve known a few service industry folks who were victims to this ones b.s. evilness.

    • badrockandroll says:

      Radio stations in Canada pay record labels; whether the labels pay their artists is another story. Another story is how Ms Warwick used 90% of the funds raised through her AIDS charity for “administration”, and did not pay state taxes on either it or her bankrupt psychic hotline. Making up funny nicknames for other people does not make up for how awful she is.

  10. AJ says:

    I don’t know what it’s like in the US but in my country, all radio stations pay a licensing fee and have to submit their playlists to the industry trade association who then split that payment amongst the artists on the playlists and pat it on to them (or their label who pay it on to them). It’s not huge amounts but it is reasonable if you get a lot of airplay

  11. JillyBean says:

    Who listens to radio anymore?