Imagine this. You bought your new car. You're proud of it. You pay your state license fees, you pay your insurance, and you maintain it. Then suddenly, in the mail comes a notice that you have to have a box installed to record each time you start the car for how long you run it, and where it goes. And, you pay for the use of the car each time you go somewhere. If you don't ...you risk a lawsuit from some supplier to the auto industry who is unhappy with their current agreement to supply some parts ...used on your car...to the automobile manufacturer.
Well, that's exactly what's happening to local radio right now. For WION and all over the air stations to play music, we pay music licensing fees to the "publishers" (author/writer) of the songs via BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC which are music licensing organizations.
Furthermore, to be allowed to LEGALLY stream (which, WION does) we have to have a contract with Soundexchange and ...pay MORE fees to at least two of the three publishing rights companies outlined above. All said and done, probably for us, around $10k a year, give or take.
Then, out of the blue, some startup company buys the rights to "certain" singing artists and groups, (some very popular ones) in an effort to blackmail radio into paying even more. Well, it's happened. There's a group called the GMR (Global Music rights) organization which has surfaced as a 4th music licensing organization, going at radio like a buzzard to a carcass. All stations are being forced to sign ANOTHER music licensing agreement, and to pay THEM as well as the others, and...chances are, we will see no reduction in the payments to the original 3, BMI, ASCAP and SESAC.
So, this year, for the first time in three calendar years, there ARE some increases in WION's prices for advertising. We know we're effective. We KNOW it's because of the recipe we have for great programming which includes some music, some news, some local information, some fundraising for charities, and some support of municipal organizations. We cannot, however continue to operate under increased costs imposed on us by the greedy music industry which wants radio to pay them to play them more than ever. (without instituting a small cost increase in our advertising rates, that is.)
A listener recently told me he heard a 1980's song on our station and immediately loved it, remembered it, and went to I-tunes and bought it. Yet, the music industry claims we are not part of the promotional nature of their business and don't benefit them at all. We hear of artists lobbying for us to pay fees to play them over the air directly, yet...at awards shows, we hear, "I'd like to thank RADIO" over and over again.
I'm all for people getting paid for their talents. A fair amount. But, given that artists are commanding now top dollar for concert tickets, songs are used in commercials and in movies, and that downloads of individual songs are in the billions, (now that you don't have to buy a whole CD or album to get a favorite song)...the world of entertainment has changed. It's been modernized, and with it has come the GREED of the music industry, and they've got many in Congress in their pockets, convincing our legislators that radio is BAD for them and we, (Radio stations) are USING them. We, as station owners provide a service to you, our community, and we should be paid for our talents as hard-working programmers and owners, too! I guarantee, no local small town station owner is rolling in money, but...most have the right idea of expecting reasonable pay for handling all the paperwork and the hours of things that are not "on the air" every day, including paperwork with the music industry. We do not, however deserve to be raked over the coals as enemies of the music industry.
And, WION does, indeed, pay it's way. We continued streaming legally when many stations bigger than WION pulled it. WE created a programming recipe for this station that WORKS better than any one has had here in 60 years, and it shows in our listening businesses, compliments, attendance at our on-air Christmas party, and more. It shows in the success of advertisers who allow us to work our craft of creative commercial production for them. It shows in community response to projects like Treasures for Troops and the money given to local events like Christmas at Bertha Brock Park. All of this, and over 12 years of successful LOCAL ownership and operation PROVE we have the right recipe for radio success, and in an era when even the biggest stations in Lansing and Grand Rapids struggle for ears, and many are in debt as corporations to the multi-billion dollar mark. We're NOT. We work with real people, a real checkbook, (not stockholders) and in a real community which REALLY has proven they believe in local radio. We answer to YOU.
As you look at your new year's resolutions....WION asks only ONE thing, and it's SO simple. It makes me angry when people say, "Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that". and here's what it is...a few simple words you can say to ANY of our sponsors with which you have business: "I heard you on WION Radio!!" If you want to be more personal, THANK them for being on the air with us. Their dollars spent on creative marketing pay for the station YOU enjoy. Their dollars PAY our electric bills, taxes, licensing, FCC fees, and our MUSIC ROYALTIES too. Without them, we can't survive. Is it too much to ask that when you do business with one of our advertisers you mention WION? It helps them to know they are HEARD.
Radio is far from dead. It's growing. The young people attending our Christmas party on the air were enthralled with it. Streaming has allowed you to take WION anywhere you go in your travels, and. it's put your town on the map to the world, too! When radio is owned by people who care, and not by huge corporations, it works, it's personal, and it grows.
So, this year, if your business is on the air, please forgive a small increase in cost...we're merely trying to maintain our services to everyone at the excellent level we have created for you. If you're not a business owner, but a listener, you can DO YOUR PART by thanking our sponsors with your business, or a phone call, or a note on their Facebook pages thanking them for advertising on local radio.
Yes, we'll have this new licensing expense. Even SONY wants their own licensing agreement now with each radio station...and it's only going to get worse, costing stations like WION more money and time. But, we'll continue to meet reasonable demands as long as we can, and you're a link in the chain. Please honor our advertisers and spread the word that local radio advertising WORKS ...so we can be here....to continue to serve, continue do donate, and continue....putting Ionia on the map for years to come.
Now, in your travels today, tomorrow, and in 2017...who can YOU thank that is a WION advertiser?
Happy New Year....and thank you...from the bottom of the hearts of everyone who helps make WION "America's Biggest Little Radio Station!"