Janita Shocked by Music Industry In The United States
[This transcript is excerpted from a special edition of Art of the Song entitled The State of the Music Biz. Click here to listen to the complete program as broadcast on Public Radio.]
John: Now we’ll hear from Finnish recording artist Janita. Janita had a very successful music career in Finland before moving to the U.S. at age seventeen. She talks about how her income was affected by the copyright laws here.
Janita: I’ve actually been a part of this grassroots movement called IRespectMusic for the last couple years and the reason why I joined the whole movement is because of a personal anger, or righteous anger really. I started my career when I was thirteen and also, like I said, I wasn’t writing songs at the time. So, I did get paid on the radio when my music was played on the radio because in Finland artists get paid for when their music is played on the radio. Actually in the U.S. they don’t, which is shocking. I found that out when I moved to New York when I was seventeen that the U.S. doesn’t pay artists for when their songs are on the radio. Like you can think about artists like Aretha Franklin, for example, she has never gotten paid a penny for RESPECT being on the radio. I thought Finland was the exception the rule but actually, turns out, that the U.S. is the exception to the rule. And it is something that really needs to change because, for example, for me, when I became an American citizen, two years ago, 2013, I actually lost a third of my income because I lost the payments for when my music is played on live radio stations. It’s a shocking thing American artists don’t even know what they’re missing and that’s one of the reasons why I feel a responsibility myself to speak out about this. Is because I know how much money I am loosing. If you think about Leslie Gore, for example, who, unfortunately just recently died, she was the singer of the song “It’s My Party And I’ll Cry If I Want To”. If you think about the magnitude of that hit, back in the day. Anybody, even in this day, however old they are, they know that song, because it’s on the radio all the time internationally. If you think about the amount of money that Leslie Gore would have gotten paid if the song would’ve been paid for when it was on the radio. She would have had quite a different life and it would have been quite a different situation for the family and friends to deal with her illness and everything that goes along with her passing away. She’s really a poster child for what we’re doing and I have to say that it really affects even just the midlevel artists as well. It affects all artists that we’re not getting paid for this. We really need to change it and that’s why I’ve been going back and forth to Washington, D.C. I think we’ve been there five times now with Blake Morgan and Tommy Merrill. Blake Morgan is really the head of this campaign and, coincidentally, he is also one of my music producers and so that’s the way we know each other. Immediately when he first told me that it was the case that the U.S. is the only democratic country in the world that doesn’t pay artists for when their songs are on the radio. When he told me that I was like “Oh my God” because I had really thought that Finland was the exception to the rule all those years and it was shocking to me that this was the truth. I think this has been as shocking to music lovers everywhere as it has been to musicians to hear this truth.”