Last week’s top story: Irving Azoff and GMR sue 10,000 radio stations. Rock group Anthrax sides with Azoff. This week’s top story: Anthrax wants out of radio lawsuit.
Irving Azoff manages mega-stars like the Eagles, Christina Aguilera, Maroon 5, Bon Jovi, and Journey. He understands the music industry. He also understand artists. In order to defend artists from low radio payouts, Azoff started Global Music Rights (GMR). The performance rights organization represents 71 notable songwriters.
The Radio Music Licensing Committee (RMLC) wasn’t happy. They control more than 90% of all radio revenue in the United States. So, they sued Azoff on the grounds that GMR is a monopoly. Now, Irving Azoff is fighting back. Last week, he filed a counter lawsuit against RMLC for antitrust violations.
Azoff’s GMR’s website includes a long list of artists that GMR represents. You’ll find popular artists like Ice Cube, Peter Frampton, Pharrell Williams, Jennifer Lopez, and more. You’ll also find popular American trash metal band, Anthrax. They’re not exactly happy with the decision. Now, the band fears that they will lose radio play.
In an open letter to Irving Azoff obtained by Digital Music News, Anthrax wrote,
“As artists and songwriters, we certainly appreciate anyone’s efforts to see that we are paid a fair wage for the use of our music, “fair pay for fair play,” as your lawsuit against the Radio Music License Committee states. As a result of your suit, our understanding is that as of January 1, 2017, more than 10,000 U.S.-based radio stations could be fined if they program songs written by a songwriter represented by your company, Global Music Rights, without first obtaining the proper license. We certainly understand and respect that.
However, you’ve included Anthrax on your “What Songs are in the Global Music Rights repertoire” and that mere inclusion presents a skewed and unjust misrepresentation of the complete facts. This could be very damaging to us and to our fellow performers who may find themselves in a similar situation.”
With no disrespect, none of the members of Anthrax are affiliated with GMR so the songs we’ve written would not be included or affected; however, way back in 1999, Anthrax did record a cover of the Metallica song “Phantom Lord” that was released on a limited edition Anthrax EP. The credited composers for “Phantom Lord” are our good friends James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, and then-Metallica member Dave Mustaine. As you included Metallica and Megadeth on your GMR Rights list, we believe our having recorded that one song some 17 years ago may be the only reason we are included on your list.
Mr. Azoff, you and the songwriters you represent have every right to fight for fair compensation, and we would completely understand if you were to inform the more than 10,000 U.S.-based radio stations that as of January 1, 2017, they cannot program the Anthrax cover of “Phantom Lord” unless they agree to the GMR licensing terms. But you don’t provide that information, you’ve merely listed “Anthrax” which does nothing other than create a dark chasm of mystery for radio programmers. Without offering responsible specificity for the programmers, such as the actual title of the song that we recorded, written by the particular GMR client, you’ve created a precarious situation.
Anthrax has recorded and released more than 150 songs over our 35 year career and we don’t want radio programmers to think that they cannot play any of those other songs. With the release of our most recent album, Anthrax has had two Top 40 tracks at rock radio and our label will be working another song at this format in early 2017. We would ask that you recognize the fact that radio stations are short staffed so likely would not have the time necessary to use your search tool to locate the Anthrax song – and there is JUST ONE – that was written by one of your GMR artists.
Please do the right thing, not just for Anthrax, but for all of the artists you’ve listed on your GMR site – provide specific information to radio about what songs are affected and cannot be programmed without the required GMR license.
Scott Ian, Charlie Benante, Frank Bello, Joey Belladonna, Jonathan Donais
December 16, 2016