Top musician (Bono?) banned over royalties, complaint says

Which top-selling artist purportedly had his new single cut from some radio stations playlists in retaliation for supporting royalties for musicians?

No one involved will name the recording artist, but his no-play treatment by several radio stations is alleged in a complaint filed with the Federal Communications Commission and obtained by the Associated Press. It says recording artists are being threatened and intimidated.

In the filing, the musicFIRST Coalition says the top-selling artist — there are hints it could be U2 frontman Bono — recently released an album and spoke during April in support of an effort to require radio stations to pay musicians royalties similar to those paid to songwriters.

Soon after, it said, "several stations within a major radio broadcast group notified the artist's label that they would no longer play his single on the air."

Representatives for musicFIRST declined to identify the artist.

U2's album, No Line on the Horizon, was released in March with its leadoff single, Get on Your Boots.

In April, Bono issued a statement on behalf of pay for musicians, saying, "It's only fair that when radio makes money by playing a recording artist's music ... the recording artist should be compensated just as songwriters are already."

Calls and e-mails to a spokeswoman for Bono were not immediately returned.

Other artists involved with musicFIRST include Don Henley, Celine Dion, Christina Aguilera and Wyclef Jean.

The filing also alleges unfair treatment of other artists by radio stations in Florida, Delaware and Texas. It does not identify any of the stations but accuses the stations of unlawfully putting their own financial interests above their obligation to serve the public. The group asks the FCC, which regulates the public airwaves, to investigate.

The controversy centers on legislation in Congress that would require radio stations to pay musicians royalties. Satellite radio, Internet radio and cable TV music channels already pay fees to performers and musicians, along with songwriter royalties. AM and FM radio stations just pay songwriters, not performers.

The National Association of Broadcasters opposes the bill, called the Performance Rights Act. The NAB says it amounts to a tax on U.S. radio stations and threatens thousands of jobs.

The filing by musicFIRST, made late Tuesday, also said:

• A Delaware radio station boycotted all artists affiliated with musicFIRST for an entire month.

• Before an interview, an artist was pressured by a Texas radio station to state on the air that the Performance Rights Act would cripple radio stations.

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