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David Byrne Covers Biz Markie's "Just A Friend" Live At NYC Performance Royalties Rally


Update 2/26:

As promised, here's that ro-Byrne-ic interpretation of Biz Markie's "Just A Friend," which an overalls-wearing Byrne performed live Tuesday night at the "Artists' Pay For Radio Play" rally/event in NYC.

Indie godfather David Byrne has promised (threatened?) to unveil a rendition of Biz Markie's "Just A Friend" tonight in NYC to rally the troops in an ongoing fight for performance royalties. As a symbol of solidarity with performers who have been oppressed by commercial radio AKA "The Man" in the U.S., Byrne will be joined by musician friends from R.E.M., CAKE and more, to perform covers of what we presume will be the most royally screwed songs in music history. Says Byrne in an e-note leading up to the event:

"Some of us will play songs that are identified with specific performers and bands that never saw money from all the radio play they got (since they didn’t write the songs). I’ll be doing a version of “Just a Friend,” which is identified with Biz Markie. Mr. Markie didn’t write that tune (although he did probably write the rap). The drum and keyboard loop was lifted from a Freddie Scott recording, but the song was written by Gamble & Huff, the great songwriting team that wrote for The O’Jays and The Spinners. So chances are Biz Markie didn’t see any royalties from all the radio play that song got."

>>>Read The Rest of Byrne's Op-Ed Here

Last month the unwritten head activist of the independent music community took to an internet pulpit to share his thoughts on the issue of performers' royalties in the U.S. According to Byrne's note, whereas most other countries offer at least small amounts to performers for the use of their songs on the radio, the U.S. is one of only several countries to deny performance royalties to artists. Under such a system, songwriters and publishers are paid a bit, but the musicians who record and perform receive nothing when the radio plays their songs. Byrne uses the example of Aretha Franklin, who he claims received no compensation from the radio for her ultra-iconic hit "R-E-S-P-E-C-T."

More on Byrne's "Just A Friend" cover to come, we're sure. For now watch the original below. Everything is set to go down tonight at (le) Poisson Rouge at the free (but filled-to-capacity) Artists’ Pay for Radio Play - Rally and Concert sponsored by the Content Creators Coalition. Alongside the event is this petition which could benefit from additional background on the issue at hand.