April 25, 2024

Kylie Minogue, Jimmy Barnes’ record label Mushroom Group wants more money from radio

The radio industry’s peak body, Commercial Radio & Audio, has argued it pays $40 million across both fees, which is about 5 per cent of its annual revenue. Radio revenue has fallen 16 per cent since 2019, it added.

Removing the cap would have a “devastating” impact on local radio, and combined with a government quota to play at least 25 per cent Australian music, could give labels leverage to demand huge payments, the CRA said. Stations don’t pay to play music from abroad. If the cap goes, Australian music quotas should also go, CRA chief executive Ford Ennals has argued.

Commercial Radio & Audio CEO Ford Ennals. 

It is also unclear where the millions currently paid go, radio networks say, claiming 90 per cent goes not to artists but to multinational record labels Universal, Sony and Warner.

Mr Maund, a board member of the Australian Recording Industry Association, says Mushroom splits revenue from radio networks 50-50 with its artists.

“For these recordings to exist, there needs to be investment in those artists,” he said.

“Who’s providing the investment to have the recordings exist in the first place? The labels are providing that. So we need to get a return on our investment as well.

“When it comes to a split between labels and artists, 50-50 is a pretty decent return. If it doesn’t go well, the artist doesn’t pay off, we have to cover it all.”

Mushroom has seven labels, 50 staff, and spends $14 million a year on 60 Australian artists. But that has been declining since streaming became the main way people consume music and TikTok became the way songs are discovered. That changes the economics of labels, Mr Maund said.

“We are almost wholly reliant on streaming income now. The record industry is like a two-speed economy. There are the labels and the artists with massive catalogue, where times have never been better. But then you’ve got the new artists and the labels that are investing in new artists. And it’s never been tougher for them.”

The radio stations and caps are not the answer to these macro problems, Mr Maund concedes, but they are something.

“You’re going to fight for every cent you do wherever it is. Anyone would do that.

“This is not the only battle, but it is a battle which is worth fighting for. Look at the percentage radio stations are paying for their talent.”

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