Clear Channel Independent Contract Stirs Early Backlash

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A Clear Channel Radio contract deemed unfriendly to independent artists is stirring backlash from a number of voices.

Clear Channel is one of several radio conglomerates required to allocate programming time to independent artists under a recently-forged agreement with federal regulators.  But the online contract tied to artist submissions demands that artists relinquish their right to digital performance royalties.  “You grant to Clear Channel the royalty-free non-exclusive right and license, in perpetuity … to use, copy, modify, adapt, translate, publicly perform, digitally perform, publicly display and distribute any sound recordings,” the contract states.

The radio conglomerate originally agreed to offer programming blocks to independent artists as part of a payola-related settlement with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  Those agreements also involved CBS Radio, Entercom Communications Corp., and Citadel Broadcasting Corp., a group that collectively saddled a $12.5 million payout.  “I appreciate broadcasters considering creative ways of getting fresh music to their audiences,” said FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein following the settlement in March of this year.

Whether Adelstein will jump into the latest issue remains to be seen, though independent advocates are likely to generate more noise.  “Forcing artists to sign away their rights in an application document is just one of the many ways that Clear Channel is helping the artist community demonstrate just how greedy big radio has become,” a recent release from the Future of Music Coalition (FMC) declared.  “If the digital performance right exists, everyone should pay it, particularly the wealthy broadcasters,” the organization continued.