Two Congressmen Are Bringing the Performance Right Fight to Radio Stations with New Legislation

Two Congressmen (New-York Democrat Jerrold Nadler and Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn) introduced legislation today, the Fair Play Fair Pay Act, that aims to modernize the decades-old rules that govern music licensing for digital and terrestrial radio broadcasts. 

As it stands right now, when you are driving to work and hear a piece of music on the radio, the artist performing that song doesn't get paid for that performance  – only the songwriter. That legal loophole, which has allowed corporate AM and FM radio stations to stiff musicians for decades, has long been a heated point of contention in the music industry. The US is one of the only industrialized nations to not give artists performance rights for their music on terrestrial radio.

AM/FM radio's competitors – Internet, satellite, and cable – all pay a performance right.

[jump] “The current system is antiquated and broken. It pits technologies against each other, and allows certain services to get away with paying little or nothing to artists. For decades, AM/FM radio has used whatever music it wants without paying a cent to the musicians, vocalists, and labels that created it. Satellite radio has paid below market royalties for the music it uses, growing into a multibillion dollar business on the back of an illogical ‘grandfathered’ royalty standard that is now almost two decades old,”  Congressman Nadler said in a press release.

Wait, what's that noise I hear in the background? Ah yes, the soothing sound of Pandora's lawyers quickly shuffling papers preparing their legal fight to nip this thing in the bud.

“I’m honored to be working with Congressman Nadler on this important bill. Many music creators struggle to make ends meet even when they write a hit song because of a quirk in the copyright law,” Congressman Marsha Blackburn said in the press release. “The Fair Play Fair Pay Act will ensure that the intellectual property of artists can no longer be exploited by Big Radio without compensation. All radio platforms should be treated the same when they use music to draw in listeners and earn billions in revenue. The playing field needs to be leveled and this is long overdue.”

The new legislation is supported by the musicFIRST coalition and The American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada.

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