music and politics on radio

Garrett Wollman
Sun Sep 19 15:04:10 EDT 2004

<<On Sun, 19 Sep 2004 10:59:29 -0400 (EDT), "Bob Nelson" <> said:

> Note: (me again)--it's unknown how much money Hynde or the
> Pretenders make out of the use of "My City Was Gone" as the theme to
> Rush Limbaugh's show :)

There was in fact a big lawsuit about this at one point.  My vague
recollection is that Hynde was told that she had no control over the
licensing of that song, having signed those rights away with the
recording contract.  I believe this is standard practice for record
companies and has been for many, many years.

(In the European system of "moral rights" this would not be the case
in many countries, since moral rights are inalienable.  I don't know
how those countries balance the artistic rights and contractual
obligations of the various parties.)

While I detest Ms. Ingraham, I am sympathetic to her position; I, too,
go to a concert for music and not for political polemics.  (Of course,
in some case, the music is the polemic -- but that's OK by me.)  On
the other hand, I can find some sympathy in my heart for the artists
as well: if one truly believes in a cause with moral certitude, and
one has the attention of a substantial audience, even if only for an
hour or two, would it be right not to use that opportunity to reach
those members of one's audience who are not yet committed?  Is this
really any different from musicians supporting a charity or some other
non-political cause?  On the gripping hand, I cannot imagine changing
my views simply on the say-so of someone famous.

I do not think it is smart for music-oriented radio stations to pay
much attention to the political views of musicians.  If station
ownership does not support those views, the best way to call attention
to them is to make an issue of it in the playlist.  Doing so may
satisfy some foamers, but (particularly if it is reported in local
media) may also offend many previously satisfied listeners.  It's not
worth the risk.  Better to keep political statements in the political


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