nab-love-affair.gifThe National Association of Broadcaster is professing their love of the recording industry this Valentines day. Isn’t that sweet. They want to shout from the rooftops how much their relationship with the labels means… WAIT… that’s not right. They are professing their love to a select audience, WASHINGTON.

In the latest form of duplicity, the National association of Broadcasters will be taking out advertisements in publications geared towards Congressmen, Senators, as well as regulators. The advertisements will run in Capitol Hill publications, Roll Call, The Hill, and Politico. Hmm… is the NAB really in love with the recording industry?

For a long time terrestrial radio enjoyed free music. They got this sweetheart deal because it was legislated. The recording industry loved the deal as well. Their recording artists music received airplay and exposed audio entertainment to consumers who would then purchase records, tapes, and CD’s. It was a classic case of both parties bring something of equal value to the relationship. The lovely couple seemed inseparable.

Then, Internet speed and access improved, satellite radio developed, and something called an iPod burst onto the scene. Consumers fell in love with these products and services. Suddenly terrestrial radio was no longer the sole provider of exposing consumers to audio entertainment. CD sales began to fall. The recording industry began to see that perhaps others could provide better exposure. On top of that, these new suitors brought money into the picture in the form of royalties.

Terrestrial radio insisted that these new suitors were a fad. That they were not viable. That they could not offer what terrestrial radio has always offered. After millions of iPods sold, and iTunes became an Internet destination, the relationship was no longer very equitable. The main benefit of terrestrial radio, exposure and record sales, was eroding as each year passed.

The recording industry sought their fair share. They wanted terrestrial radio to pay royalties. The problem was that there was legislation preventing this. The solution was to propose new legislation. To seek out a fair and equitable relationship. Terrestrial radio, threatened and feeling spurned lobbied hard, via the NAB, against the legislation, and continues to do so.

The NAB is trying to woo legislators into believing that the proposed royalties would be a tax on them. They are painting a picture that their contribution to the relationship is still strong. Record labels can show otherwise in the form of record sales. Getting to play music for free is a tremendous advantage for terrestrial radio in the audio entertainment landscape. Should terrestrial radio pay royalties? Perhaps…Perhaps not. In fairness, the music industry has it’s own issues. Artists now focus on “Hits”, and the general quality of a music album or CD has deteriorated into one good song and a collection of okay songs. Consumers seeking one song can get it on the net.

So is the NAB in love with the RIAA? No, not really, but that is what they want legislators to believe. Is the campaign a good idea? Not really. It is pretty transparent. The top of the ad features a loving couple while the bottom of the ad carries legal jargon like a couple seeking a divorce. Check it out

Position – Long Sirius, XM