Members of Congress Introduce American Music Fairness Act


The United States is the only major country in the world where terrestrial radio does not pay any royalties to performers or copyright holders on the music recorded on the songs they play, a situation which is largely due to the influence of the powerful radio lobby in Congress. While more than 8,300 AM and FM stations across the country pay royalties to songwriters, they never paid performers or copyright holders, unlike streaming services.

On Thursday, Representatives Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Darrell Issa (R-CA) introduced the bipartisan American Music Fairness Act, which aims to rectify this situation. The act was showcased via a live streamed event that saw lawmakers join an unusual collection of artists including veteran singers Dionne Warwick and Sam Moore as well as Ken Casey of the Dropkick Murphys.

“The American Music Fairness Act will protect the artists we know because they make the music we love,” Deutch said. “For the first time, artists would see some of the huge profits made from their creative work. Congress must end the unfair deal that AM / FM radio has forced on musicians.

The bill is at least partially in response to the local radio freedom act that Steve Womack (R-AR) and Kathy Castor (D-FL) introduced last month, which is championed by the National Association of Broadcasters. This law seeks to maintain terrestrial royalty-free radio status, declaring that Congress should not impose new performance royalties or other fees that could create economic hardship for local radio stations. Some 138 representatives and 18 senators signed this non-binding resolution; Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and John Barrasso (R-WY) defend similar legislation in the Senate.

While still a powerful force, it’s no secret that terrestrial radio is rapidly losing audiences to streaming services, satellite radio, podcasts and other broadcasters, and once streaming services become widely available in cars, that decline is expected to accelerate dramatically. The champions of the Radio Freedom Act use this threat as an argument for the radio to continue paying no royalties to performers and copyright holders.

“The Local Radio Freedom Act is a non-binding resolution that reaffirms congressional support for local radio stations and opposes new fees or taxes on local, free and broadcast radio that could jeopardize the very services that so many rely on, ”Castor said in a statement. declaration.

As expected, the NAB spoke out against the Fairness Act within an hour of its introduction. “The NAB is strongly opposed to the American Music Fairness Act or any levy on the performance of local American radio stations,” said Chief Executive Officer Gordon Smith. “For decades, broadcast radio has enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship with the music industry, launching and sustaining the careers of countless artists, promoting album sales and streams, and helping foster a solid music creation environment that is the envy of the world. “

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