When David Byrne was asked to cover a song for the Content Creators Coalition – NYC event at Le Poisson Rouge last night, the former Talking Heads frontman went for a hip-hop classic: Biz Markie’s ‘Just a Friend.’
“Mr. Markie didn’t write that tune (although he did probably write the rap),” Byrne explained in his e-newsletter (via Consequence of Sound). “The drum and keyboard loop was lifted from a Freddie Scott recording, but the song was written by Gamble and 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.”
Byrne — along with R.E.M.’s Mike Mills, Cake’s John McCrea, Tift Merritt and Marc Ribot — took the stage and covered popular songs that were not written by the artists who made them famous. The entire event was to shed light on the fact that radio royalties go only to the songwriters, not the artists who perform the songs. Aretha Franklin may have made ‘Respect’ a classic, but she never earned a dime for writing the song (but Otis Redding did).
The Content Creators Coalition – NYC also launched a petition to push Congress to allow pay-for-play for artists. So if you feel like getting involved . . . You can watch Byrne perform ‘Just a Friend’ above.