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After Record Store Day, We Shouldn't Let Pre-72 Artists Fade Away

This past weekend, people lined up outside record stores across the country to get their hands on one of the many great exclusive releases offered as part of the annual Record Store Day, most of them on thick slabs of vinyl. 

Picture discs from Katy Perry and circa 1984 David Bowie enticed fans, while Jay Z battled with Ice T for shelf space. Records were measured not in gigabytes or bitrates, but diameter and rpm: seven or twelve, 45 or 33 1/3.

These analog gems hearken back to the early 1970s and 60s, before digital technology crept its way first into the recording studio, and then into our living rooms. And Record Store Day featured some giants from this earlier era: Albert Ammons groundbreaking mid twentieth century jazz, the Animals 1964 self-titled EP, 1971’s Blessed Are by Joan Baez, a 1969 compilation of CCR singles, selections from the Everly Brothers, a vintage Folk music compilation, lost treasures from the legendary Sun Records, Hank Williams EP from 1950, and 1967’s Little Games by the Yardbirds.

As SoundExchange President and CEO Michael Huppe said in a Billboard op-ed published during the recent Rock n Roll Hall of Fame inductions:

“These legendary artists, that we rightfully honor, are the foundation of the music we listen to today. Their creations are woven inextricably into the fabric of American culture.”

Sadly, some don’t value those that have inspired us. After paying pre-72 performers for the use of their songs, Sirius XM and Pandora recently decided to stiff them based on a tortured reading of the law.

Musical acts like the Turtles, and the recording industry have filed suit against Sirius XM and Pandora in California and New York. Artists like Steve Cropper, Sam Moore, Dionne Warwick and Maria Elena Holly, the widow of Buddy Holly, have spoken out in support of this litigation.

What a shame. It’s their choice. They used to pay and now they don’t. They could change their minds and do the right thing at any time.

What a shady move. Fans will go to record stores to pay for this timeless music, but billion dollar corporations won’t pay a dime. And these services sell those same fans stations like the “60s on 6” and the “Buddy Holly station” yet refuse to give one dime of subscribers’ payments to the artists that made the music on those stations.

No matter what the outcome is in courts of law, Sirius XM and Pandora will pay a hefty price in the court of public opinion and in Congress. We love and respect our pre-72 artists and we will stand up for them. We will not let them fade away.