Music Choice Accused of ‘One of the Most Deceitful and Disingenuous Efforts to Cheat Artists’ by A2IM

Music Choice
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Music Choice
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Music Choice

Is Music Choice trying to get a free lunch from Congress — at the expense of artists and labels?

Music Choice is a longtime player in streaming music, specifically on cable networks.  If you’re in the U.S. with a cable TV account, you’ve probably listened to one of Music Choice’s genre channels.

For most people, this is a company that plays in the background — literally and figuratively.  They’re not a high-profile company, but Music Choice feels they’re offering great exposure to the artists they include on their channels.  If that sounds like ‘exposure bucks,’ well…

Just recently, Music Choice sent this letter to various rights owners, including many artists, urging them to petition members of Congress to open a royalty-free exclusion for the streaming cable provider.  Of course, the irony here is that Music Choice is asking these artists and labels to not make money off of their recording streams on Music Choice, because of all the valuable exposure.

That full letter from Music Choice is below.  But first, here’s a little preface from A2IM CEO Richard Burgess, who just blasted out this urgent warning to member labels and artists.

Burgess has accused Music Choice of trying to cheat artists, to put it lightly.

ARTISTS BEWARE. Music Choice is trying to solicit your support to deceive Congress into reducing your royalties from Music Choice.

The below email that Music Choice is sending out to artists may be one of the most deceitful and disingenuous efforts to cheat artists out of their rightful royalties that I have ever seen.

Richard James Burgess


Image below is the email and letter from Music Choice requesting artists’ support for a letter to Senators Grassley, Feinstein, and others that will result in a loss of artist royalties.

And here’s the letter from Music Choice.

It’s basically asking artists to sign a form letter to members of Congress.  The first part is a letter to a label (or other ‘group’), with the attached letter intended for that label’s artists.

(please note: all punctuation, including text color, bold, and underline comes from Music Choice)

Suggested text for artists created by Music Choice as an endorsement for the below letter to Senate:

“Subject: IMPORTANT – Music Choice

Music Choice would like XYZ artists to support our effort to work with Congress on a provision of the Music Modernization Act that would impact Music Choice’s ability to promote their music.  Please sign the attached letter and send back to me ASAP, as we are meeting with several Congressmen tomorrow.

Here is an example of a response that can work, but please have artists respond to my original email.

This is XXX of the YYY Group and I support Music Choice as stated in their artist letter of support.   Music Choice has supported my group The YYY Group since Day One celebrating 50 years.


Leader of the YYY Group.”

Letter to the Senate from Music Choice

Dear Chairman Grassley, Ranking Member Feinstein, and other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and United States Senate:

We, the undersigned recording artists, respectfully write in support of Music Choice’s efforts to persuade you to remove one small part of the Music Modernization that threatens to put Music Choice out of business.  While we appreciate that Congress is finally passing music copyright legislation with the goal of helping songwriters and recording artists, this one provision will actually harm artists who depend on national exposure to build their audience.

The most important revenue streams for artists are concerts, streaming, and record sales (whether downloads, vinyl, or CDs).  A fundamental fact of life for artists is that people will not pay for our music any of these ways if they have not already heard it.  For this reason, promotion and music discovery are crucial.

Music Choice provides a unique and irreplaceable outlet to promote our music.  It is unique for several reasons.  Music Choice is much better than regular radio, especially for new and independent artists.  It is available in about 70 million homes throughout the entire country, included as part of a consumer’s basic cable service.  Being played on just one Music Choice channel is like being played on every radio station in the country serving as particular music format.  Music Choice plays music in many genres and formats that are not widely played on terrestrial radio giving different types of artists a platform to be heard.  Music Choice is more impactful than radio for artists because Music Choice plays a lot of new music and new artists first before being picked up by radio.  In fact, radio stations often look to see which new artists and songs Music Choice is playing before deciding to support them.  Many of us have had our careers explode because of the exposure we got first on Music Choice which is critically important to the artist community.

Music Choice is also better than, and different from, the various streaming services.  Unlike those streaming services, Music Choice’s channels are commercial free, do not play music on-demand or content selected by the listener.  They are true music discovery channels like radio.  And unlike the programmed channels offered by some of these services, Music Choice’s channels are curated by human music experts, not computer algorithms.  The difference in programming leads to more airplay for artists and helps to drive why Music Choice subscribers listen so much to the channels.  None of the streaming services provide anywhere near the level of promotion and support that we have received from Music Choice.

We understand that one small provision of the Music Modernization Act would change the legal standard used to set Music Choice’s sound recording royalty rates in a way that that major record labels hope will cause a large increase in Music Choice’s royalty rate.  We also understand that such an increase is likely to put Music Choice out of business, thereby reducing our revenue since research shows that without Music Choice consumers will shift to radio which pays artists nothing.  We urge you to remove this provision from the legislation.  Even if Music Choice’s royalty rate were tripled, any increase in payments to us would not be significant.  But losing Music Choice as a promotional partner would be very harmful, and there is no other outlet that could provide such a unique and dynamic way for recording artists to have their music heard in so many cable homes.”



9 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    dé·jà moo

    A feeling that you have heard this bullshit before.

  2. OldIndieGuy

    Sure, I’ll get back to you when my mortgage company takes “exposure” for payment. Such a crock……..

  3. In the Know

    Making no royalty payments to the music artists and labels is not only a bad idea, its simply unacceptable! If Music Choice gets their way in this new agenda they have, I sincerely hope that most artists will pull their songs off their service….

  4. Versus

    “Music Choice is more impactful…”

    What does this mean? It causes dental problems?

  5. Eric Blair

    Their choices of “Classical Music” composers feels like they just don’t want people to listen to, or care about, this huge segment of human audio creation. They play the dullest, even at prime time. They play unknown composers constantly and, though I don’t know how they do it, keep finding more. The works are generally stylized and pedestrian but they think somehow it is their obligation to force feed this music down our throats! So, if Tchaikovsky’s 4th,5th and 6th symphonies are his best (they are) they’ll play the first 3. Same with Beethoven’s 9 symphonies. They find Wagnerian overtures that nobody ever heard of but suppress his best and most popular. What could possibly be their reasoning???? Reason and logic (rapidly disappearing from the species as as whole) seem to dictate that the reason you never heard those pieces IS THAT THERE ARE SO MANY BETTER ONES!!!! Of course occasionally, they find something that rates exposure but the fact is, there are tons of music they simply ignore.

  6. Eric Blair

    Let’s talk about “Classic Rock” The dictionary indicates that “classic” has to meet a certain level of quality but they seem to think that they can simply pick a song at random from an artist/group who was from that period (another problem) and poof! it’s classic. WRONG! I lived through the CR period and I saw things change during the 70’s. That doesn’t mean the 70’s doesn’t have classic songs but, once again, they use their 70’s channel as a vehicle for hits only, including lots and lots of crap! They don’t call it “Classic 70’s.” They just played a song on the CR channel by John Melloncamp from 1982! Sorry but’s that’s just not classic rock. In addition, they’ll play songs by, for instance, members of The Who, Led Zep et al. obviously CL groups, made decades later and they think it’s CL. WRONG! They used spurious logic to create totally incorrect periods because it suits their programming needs. The Classic Rock period started in ’64-’65 and ended around ’69-70′ with vestiges, some great, appearing later, like the 2 groups previously mentioned – but they began in the CL period! I read a definition of CL in a wikipedia article that said “Classic Rock is the music played by classic rock (radio) stations” Well then, define Jazz or folk or country. That def is ridiculous, INANE AT BEST! Classic Rock is a period, plain and simple. If you can’t set temporal boundaries then you have to add The Cramps, Siouxsee & The Banshees, Sonic Youth – all classic!!!! But they have no station for them no matter what they say. Their 80’s station is hits, mostly not even rock. See my next comment for other insults to our intelligence.

    • Mark

      I beg to differ, even though I grew up in the era you described. “Classic rock” to me is great songs that are older (e.g. 25/30 years ago). But the most important thing is to hear great songs along with some deep cuts whenever possible. Personally, I’d love to hear more Spooky Tooth, early BOC, etc.

  7. Eric Blair

    Let’s talk about their dividing up of periods of music. The 50’s station (there is none) is included in the Golden Oldies which goes into the 70’s but almost never includes anything before 1956. So you never hear the best of the 1st half of the 50’s (not the greatest period) BUT… If they had a pre-rock station they could play the best of the 15 years preceding the advent of R&R. They just figure too many people that remember those songs are dead but that goes for Chopin and Ravel, etc. so… Of course, since they have no taste anyway, those station couldn’t be relied on anyway! Ever hear “Lisbon Antigua” or “The Poor People of Paris” on any MC channel? Want me to name a couple of hundred others? Why do they always play “Tragedy” by The Fleetwoods even though Thomas Wayne made it 1.5 years earlier and it charted better (and was better although I still like the Fleetwood’s version and their other hits).
    Same thing applies to both Jazz and Country (folk is totally gone so forget that). Their what, 2 Jazz stations (there used to be a “Classic Jazz” but, once again, no temporal boundaries!), play almost exclusively recent jazz, Same for country, where their Classic Country, if it still exists, spans an enormous period but nothing from the great country music of the 40’s and early 50’s. So how is that “classic”. IT ISN’T!
    With all this, they still manage to have a sh*t load of genres and sub genres and sub, sub genres for rock music. That, they can do.
    This has been happening for years, not just with these channels. They just play more so they play great stuff also. HOWEVER: Do not be fooled. This is a systematic process where the past is destroyed because they make their money on the continuous creation of new, regurgitated, derivative, contrived, inane, and actually infantile stuff. Classical radio station also played mostly boring, unknown and often crappy stuff for decades. As it says in “1984” “THERE IS NO PAST”. They have to put up a front though so they pick some good stuff but it only amounts to a tiny fraction of all the best stuff of the past. History and culture preservation is simply not their bag! Large systems have a life of their own. The people who “run” it are totally unaware of the reality of this!

  8. Diedre

    Music Choice has too many people to please. It would do well to eliminate at least 20 channels beginning with music for “Parties, Toddlers, Romance etc. You never hear Canada’s greatest except for Anne Murray. The task has to be very difficult to manage at any rate. I stopped listening. Reading important books adds more quality to my existence. TV and online crappella do nothing.

    should eliminate