The always interesting VICE has an interview up with Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) President Cary Sherman, in which the head of the oft-vilified organization attempts to put a spin on the RIAA’s ever-so-slightly more friendly public face, as it switches from harassing end users to focusing more on ISPs.
In a snappy introduction it was noted that Sherman “is often seen as the face man for an oppressive totalitarian behemoth that can potentially throw you in the slammer and/or fine you into a horrid existence for illegally downloading shining examples of popular culture like “California Gurls” by Katy Perry featuring Snoop Dogg.”
In the piece, entitled Downloading Some Bullshit, Sherman answered a series of questions to the best of his ability.
Vice: Let’s begin with something semi-current that I can’t quite wrap my head around: HR 848, the Performance Rights Act that was introduced in February 2009 and is still before Congress. I understand that its goal is to eliminate the disparity between royalty payments across formats, but does FM radio really pay less for broadcasting music than the internet and satellite varieties? That seems backward.
Cary Sherman: It aims to get terrestrial radio stations to pay royalties. Right now they have an exemption. We get paid royalties by satellite, cable news services, and webcasters. We even get paid when radio stations simulcast on the web, but we don’t get paid when they simply broadcast over the air. Since they’re the most well-established business, it’s certainly an anomaly that all the start-ups are paying while the big gorilla pays nothing at all.
Vice: How does the RIAA calculate potential profit loss from illegal downloads?
Sherman: We don’t.
Vice: You don’t at all?
Sherman: We never do. The problem with doing that is we have no ability to measure what’s going on with the internet; we have to rely on third parties. It’s very difficult to do it under any circumstances.
Vice: Who are some of your favorite musicians and bands?
Sherman: I have a pretty wide variety of tastes because I have a big iPod. I like Howie Day, Jack Johnson, Melissa Manchester, U2. I just heard Billy Joel the other night and remembered how much I love him and Elton John. I was also listening to Owl City; you’re not going to be able to pigeonhole me with anything.
Vice: One final question: Do you currently or have you ever received free music while an employee of the RIAA?
Sherman: I used to get free CDs, but no longer. I buy all my music now. I do.