Second Addendum To The ‘Open Letter’

Wow, I guess I hit a nerve. I should have thought about the fact that something new to me was a struggle many of you have lived in the middle of for quite some time.

I wanted to add a second addendum for two reasons. One, I realized that “I made an exception
for my own label and possibly individual labels altogether in the last addendum. But I also wanted to say that this is not necessarily the stance of your individual radio station. I don’t know what station you listen to and I definitely don’t have a list of stations and what they believe on this issue. I have just noticed a problem.

The second reason I wanted to add the addendum is that I have gotten some responses from radio station people. Responses that I didn’t expect, but really appreciate from people I respect. And due to these responses, I have come to feel that my letter may have been taken in a tone that was not what I intended. And that it was probably taken that way because I wrote it poorly. Honestly, I wrote a blog, just sharing what I was thinking. And I should have put more time into it. So let’s dig into this a little more.

One point that has been consistently brought up is that artists and labels benefit from songs being played on the radio. I know I didn’t mention this in the radio section of my letter, but it was my main point in addressing the labels. Radio is a huge benefit to an artist’s career and is a major force in promoting their product. My point to them was a hope that they recognize that and respond accordingly. Radio is still the main way CCM listeners find their music. Radio has begun and bolstered the careers of most every major musician of our generation. And on the other side, there are still some amazing songwriters out there that don’t get played and therefore aren’t as well known, even though they write much better songs than I do. People buy CDs of artists they hear on the radio. People go to concerts of artists the radio introduced them to. I guess I just want to make sure people didn’t read the letter and think I’m against radio or even unappreciative of radio. I was careless in not outlining all they bring to the table. But I still think we have a problem on our hands. All of us together.

The second point brought up often was the concept of royalties. And it was this that I realized I did not paint with a clear enough brush. That analogy doesn’t really work, but I think you get the idea. In my letter, I did not educate the general public as to how the system works now, so people were not able to follow me when I said I really didn’t think it needed to change. So let’s look at that. Right now, the way my mentor explained it to me, every time a station plays one of my songs, a part of a penny goes into a jar with my name on it. Obviously that is not completely accurate but you get the idea. And don’t think that a part of a penny is a small amount. That station plays hundreds of songs a day. All that money adds up and is a significant part of a station’s budget, and definitely goes to the artists and supports them. I think that is a system that works. I don’t think I made that clear enough last time. As it was explained to me, the recording industry has asked for the royalty amount to increase significantly. And in response, the radio industry has asked for it to go away or even for the money to switch directions. I think both have valid cases, meaning that the music the record industry is offering is getting better and better and deserves to be rewarded for their work. Also, the radio industry is the main advertising force for the music industry and deserves to be thanked and rewarded. That being said, I think we were in a good place to start with. I know the economy is tough and we are all trying to squeeze pennies from wherever we can find them. I’m just saying that I don’t think labels and radio should try to squeeze them from each other. I think we are a team. I think we work together. I loved how Ken Burns put it in his response, that we have “a symbiotic relationship.” And I think the old system is working fine. I apologize if in any way I suggested that radio was not financially supporting its artists. It is. And I am merely saying that I think what they are doing now is enough.

Lastly, my own personal note, to my fans and to everyone else, please do not take this as an addendum because I’m afraid radio won’t play my new single. I didn’t think of that until writing this. But honestly, my response to radio is the same as it’s always been. I appreciate what they do because I am a listener. As far as my music goes, I expect you to seek the Lord on what to play on your station. If it’s Joy Unspeakable, then play it. If it’s not, then don’t. I can’t ask any more than that. And due to that trust in your decision making, I felt that we could address these things now. I am no mediator. I don’t even know the specific facts of this issue. I’m just a normal guy who has a heart for the recording industry and the radio industry to work together. To quote a different Mr. King, “why can’t we all just get along?”

And also, I want to thank all the people who responded, both fans and radio folk. And special thanks to Jim McDermott and Ken Burns for speaking truth and putting their real names out there. That makes me confident that we are a family having a discussion, not just throwing things blindly at each other. Thanks again to all who just spent 15 minutes of your day reading this.

Todd

An Open Letter to the Radio and Record Industry

Dear Record Labels and Radio Stations,

I have been a fan of your work for a long time, and more recently became involved with it on a deeper level. But I’m not writing today about me. Today I’m writing about you, and more importantly, your relationship with each other, or the lack thereof. Unfortunately, you will probably never read this. It will only be read by people who listen to you on a consistent
basis.

I am writing because I am concerned with what is turning into quite a chasm in your relationship. I only know what I’m told and I confess to not being an expert in this. But from what I understand, the record industry wants radio to pay more for using the songs. And the radio industry in turn, doesn’t want to pay anything for using songs, but actually wants to be paid for playing them. So if you don’t mind, I’d like to take a moment to look at each side and propose a solution. So if you don’t like what you’re hearing, don’t worry, I’ll get to the other side momentarily.

First, let’s start with radio. You either make money by selling commercials or raise money by getting listeners to support your station. This money is what pays your bills, salaries, etc. These listeners, both the listeners your advertisers desire and the listeners who support your station, are attracted to your station because of the music you play. Therefore, in a very simple equation, the music makes your money. If you would like to exclude the music, that’s great. Be a talk radio station. Then the listeners listen only for you, and all money paid or given is due to you. But if they listen for the music, then you are using that music to finance your own operation. And that’s a great idea. But Jesus said, in Luke 10, “The worker deserves his wages.” I know the economy is tough. In normal businesses, they have to find ways to make do. Sometimes there are layoffs. So I guess you could view this that way. You could lay all the artists off. Then you don’t have to pay them. But then you don’t get their work either.
It’s only fair. The state of the economy is not asking you to work for nothing. I realize that fewer listeners are involved each year. I understand that can be discouraging. I know you’re trying to find ways to make radio continue to be financially viable, but I don’t think you can not pay for the music you obviously use to your benefit.

Second, record labels… You make money selling records, or at least by selling songs. The average consumer knows about said song because most of the time, they heard it on the radio. From what I’ve been told, the radio stations’ case is that they deserve to get paid because they are advertising for your product. And while that is not completely the case, it does stumble across a truth. You do benefit from radio playing your song. So, until you figure out how to market your music successfully without radio, you still need this partnership. And I know (inside information follows) that you haven’t figured that out yet. I know you’re trying. I know a radio hit does not guarantee sales anymore. But at the moment, it is still your most common avenue to introduce music to the general public. So they have a case when they say they are doing things that benefit you.

My point is that you two need each other. You are both in the midst of a rough economy trying to make things work on your balance sheet. But the answer is not hurting the other. Unfortunately, I don’t know the answer. Otherwise, I would be out selling that answer and not writing this blog. What I do know is that for decades the two of you have worked together to
introduce thousands, maybe millions, of artists to the world. Music has saturated our culture. And it’s because you worked together. I don’t see why you’re trying to fix something that’s not broken. The current situation has worked. Let the radio stations pay a reasonable amount to use the music. The problem is that you can’t agree on what is reasonable. Well,
don’t try to make your year’s budget on this issue. It doesn’t need to greatly increase or decrease. Consider it a partership, like it always has been. If you need to make more money to balance your budget, then do it in other ways. Have a bake sale.

Now, for those of you who are in the mainstream media (right, like that’s going to happen, but just in case it does), that is the end of my letter to you. I am very grateful for all you have done over the years. You have made and shared so much music with me. And now you’re allowing me to make and share music myself. So, thanks. I hope you can work it out.

For those in the Christian media, I have one more thought. You are part of a kingdom. You are created and purposed for the glory of Christ. The king is in charge here. When a king has economic problems, does he set his knights against his farmers? His blacksmiths against his cooks? No. Why? Because he needs all of them. Remember the person you are fighting is a child of God. And more importantly that you are connecting pieces in a puzzle, a tapestry, if you will, that will express the glory of God to the world. If you can work together. And I think you can. Because friends are friends forever. Thanks for reading.

Todd