[Editor Charlie sez: Anyone who tells you that artists can’t pass legislation to get fair pay for radio play is either a charlatan or full of shit and they are not on our side of the football.]
U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), along with Senators Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), introduced the bipartisan American Music Fairness Act to ensure artists and music creators receive fair compensation for the use of their songs on AM/FM radio. This legislation will bring corporate radio broadcasters in line with all other music streaming platforms, which already pay artists for their music.
Congressmen Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) led the legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“From Beale Street to Music Row to the hills of East Tennessee, Tennessee’s songwriters and artists have undeniably made their mark,” said Senator Blackburn. “However, while digital music platforms compensate music performers and copyright holders for playing their songs, AM/FM radio stations only pay songwriters for the music they broadcast. This legislation takes a long overdue step toward leveling the music industry playing field and ensuring creators are fairly compensated for their work.”
“California’s artists play a pivotal role in enriching and diversifying our country’s music scene, but for too long, our laws have unfairly denied them the right to receive fair compensation for their hard work and talent on AM/FM radio broadcasts,” said Senator Padilla. “As we celebrate the accomplishments of our musical artists at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles this weekend, we must commit to treating them with the dignity and respect they deserve for the music that they produce and that we enjoy every day.”
“Protecting one’s intellectual property is the signature right of every American who dares to invent. Every artist who first picked up a drumstick, sang to their mirror, or wrote lyrics from the heart did so because they had a dream and wanted to share it with the world. I look forward to working with stakeholders and colleagues to achieve this overdue reform,” said Congressman Issa.
“The United States is an outlier in the world for not requiring broadcast radio to pay artists when playing their music, while requiring satellite and internet radio to pay,” said Chairman Nadler. “This is unfair to both artists and music providers. I’m proud to sponsor the American Music Fairness Act which would finally correct this injustice. This is what music creators want and deserve.”
“It’s clear that the movement for music fairness continues to gain momentum, bringing us closer than ever before to ending Big Radio’s ability to deny artists the fair pay they deserve. This week’s House and Senate introductions of the American Music Fairness Act is evidence of that. We thank Senators Padilla and Blackburn and Representatives Issa and Nadler for their leadership in the effort to secure economic justice for our nation’s music artists and creators, and look forward to working together to drive continued progress in the coming months,”said Congressman Joe Crowley, Chairman of musicFIRST.
“Music creators have been forced to give away their work for far too long. It is time for Congress to demonstrate that they stand behind the hard-working Americans that provide the music we all love by finally passing the American Music Fairness Act. This bill has the broad support of artists, labels, small broadcasters, unions, and others because it strikes a fair balance by respecting creators for their work and protecting truly local broadcasters. No more excuses, no more waiting in line for their turn. Music creators demand the economic justice AMFA provides,” said Michael Huppe, President and CEO of SoundExchange.
“As we prepare to focus our attention on celebrating music this weekend at the GRAMMY Awards, the Recording Academy also renews its commitment to ensuring music creators are always compensated fairly for their work. We applaud Reps. Issa, Nadler, McClintock, and Lieu and Senators Padilla, Blackburn, Feinstein, and Tillis for reintroducing the American Music Fairness Act and look forward to working with them to build on the historic progress we made last year on this important legislation,” said Harvey Mason jr., CEO of the Recording Academy.
“The American Music Fairness Act is practical compromise legislation that has already passed the House Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support last Congress. It takes a smart, calibrated approach towards solving a decades old problem in the radio industry. When enacted into law, AMFA will ensure recording artists and copyright owners are paid fairly for recorded music regardless of the technology used to broadcast it while carefully protecting small and noncommercial stations to preserve truly local radio our communities depend upon,” said Mitch Glazier, Chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America.
“For far too long, our broken and unfair system has let AM/FM radio stations — many of which are owned by just a few massive media corporations — get away with refusing to pay artists when they play their music. While these big corporate broadcast companies gobble up billions upon billions in advertising dollars, the session and background musicians, whose work makes all of it possible, receive no compensation whatsoever for their creations. It’s time to right this wrong, and the American Music Fairness Act aims to do just that. It’s vital that Congress protects the livelihoods of those who create the music we know and love,” said Ray Hair, International President of the American Federation of Musicians.
“I want to thank Congressman Jerry Nadler, Congressman Darrell Issa, Senator Alex Padilla and Senator Marsha Blackburn for their leadership on this crucial legislation. When you consider the billions of dollars the big radio corporations generate in revenue and profits, it’s shocking that recording artists, vocalists and musicians don’t receive a penny when their work is played on AM/FM radio. Since when do workers in America get exploited without pay? This is an unfair and egregious loophole especially since both streaming and digital services pay for the use of artists’ work. AM/FM radio has had a free ride for decades and it’s time to put a stop to it! I urge Congress to fix this outdated practice by passing the American Music Fairness Act,” said Fran Drescher, President of SAG-AFTRA.
“We are grateful that our champions are making it crystal clear that the fight for fairness continues in this new Congress. By reintroducing the American Music Fairness Act, Senators Blackburn and Padilla, along with Representatives Issa, Nadler, McClintock, and Lieu, as defenders of property rights and supporters of artistic expression, have put the mega broadcasting conglomerates on notice that it is time to erase their stain on America’s history,” said Dr. Richard James Burgess, President and CEO of the American Association of Independent Music.
Currently, the United States is the only democratic country in the world in which artists are not compensated for the use of their music on AM/FM radio. By requiring broadcast radio corporations to pay performance royalties to creators for AM/FM radio plays, the American Music Fairness Act would close an antiquated loophole that has allowed corporate broadcasters to forgo compensating artists for the use of their music for decades.
In recognition of the important role of locally owned radio stations in communities across the U.S., the American Music Fairness Act also includes strong protections for small, college, and non-commercial stations.
The American Music Fairness Act will positively impact artists and the music industry at large by:
- Requiring terrestrial radio broadcasters to pay royalties to American music creators when they play their songs.
- Protecting small and local stations who qualify for exemptions — specifically those that fall under $1.5 million in annual revenue and whose parent companies fall under less than $10 million in annual revenue overall — by allowing them to play unlimited music for less than $500 annually.
- Creating a fair global market that ensures foreign countries pay U.S. artists for the use of their songs overseas.
The American Music Fairness Act is endorsed by: the AFL-CIO, the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), the American Federation of Musicians, the Recording Academy, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), SAG-AFTRA and SoundExchange.
Full text of the bill is available here.