June 28, 2013

Motown Legend Martha Reeves Demands that Radio Pay Up

She says, "Artists and musicians invest a lifetime in their craft and take risks bigger than any tech start-up."

Rhythm and blues music often inspires both strong emotions and brave actions.

By MARTHA REEVES via THE GRIO “Dancing in the Street,” my biggest success of the 1960s, was used to promote freedom and equality by Berry Gordy and Dr. Martin Luther King. Berry, as a fellow artist at Motown Recording Company, knew that Marvin Gaye, Ivy Hunter and William Stevenson had written a song with happiness and sheer delight, encouraging people to dance in the street with no fear of danger or inhibition. It soon became a rallying cry for the civil rights movement.

We recorded with world-class musicians “The Funk Brothers” in a style now declared our own folklore by the Library of Congress. Our performance of “Dancing in the Street” put Dr. King’s calls for equality and justice into song.

So it’s ironic that musicians themselves – including those that performed “Dancing in the Street” – have silently suffered a decades-long economic injustice: that terrestrial AM/FM radio stations don’t pay them a penny to use their music. It goes against the most basic principle of labor: a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work. “Big Radio” has always resisted paying performers, arguing that we receive the benefit of promotion. But radio today mostly plays the same top 40 “hits” again and again, and still when they give “Dancing in the Street” airtime, I, one of the artists who created the recording, don’t see a dime.

Continue reading Martha Reeves' opinion at The Grio.com 

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