Actually, "ether-based" radio has NEVER had to pay for the privilege
of playing records over the air...actually, far from it!
In the early days (twenties, thirties...) the playing of phonograph
records was generally proscribed (at one point, Gennett records
carried the notice, "This Record Is Not To Be Broadcasted" [sic]!
"Disk Jockey" programs started to appear around 1935-36...and the
record industry quickly noticed that those records which were played
"over the air" enjoyed increased sales! There were a few interruptions
(ASCAP vs. BMI, the AFM ban, WWII, et al...) but, by 1946, record
companies were mailing out "promo copies" of their new releases to
radio stations. This practice continued at least into the seventies
(in fact, I still can get "promo copies" of blues CD's for play on
my "net radio" blues show...!). However, I have seen e-mail suggesting
that the "record industry" is now considering demanding royalties
for electromagnetic-radio play of their product...!
Steven C. Barr