As the NAB battles to prevent radio stations from having to pay for the music they air, legislation has been introduced that may pave the way for radio managers to have to dig deep into their wallets. It’s called the AMFM Act. Here are the details…
The Ask Musicians for Music Act was introduced by Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) in the House and Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) in the Senate. The AMFM Act gives music creators control of their own work by requiring broadcasters to obtain consent before playing their music. Under the AMFM Act, artists who want to allow terrestrial radio to continue to use their work for free can choose to do so. Artists who seek compensation for their work can exercise their right to negotiate rates for the use of their sound recordings from broadcasters. Both bills provide special treatment by protecting small, public, college, and other non-commercial stations.
For years now SoundExchange CEO Michael Huppe has been attempting to get radio to pay for the music it airs. Huppe believes radio has been profiting on the backs of artists and “Big Radio” needs to pay up.
The radio industry believes the relationship between artists and radio has been working successfully for both sides since day one. Radio plays the music, at no charge to artists, to its millions of listeners. That results in free promotion of the music, hit songs and artist recognition. That leads to music being sold, concerts venues being filled and both record labels and artists making money.
The NAB issued a statement about the AMFM Act, obviously opposing it, adding it could decimate the economics of hometown radio stations that have launched the careers of countless musicians and exposed legacy artists to a new generation of listeners. “NAB’s door remains open to work with the record labels to find a holistic solution to this issue that reflects the enduring value to artists and labels of local radio to our hundred of millions of terrestrial and digital listeners. Unfortunately, the record labels have shown little interest in having those discussions.”
SoundExchange CEO Michael Huppe was quite happy with the new legislation. “The AMFM Act ensures that the people who make the music have a protected property right in their own work by requiring broadcasters to get permission before they transmit recordings over the air. It sets the table for meaningful marketplace negotiations and ends the current market distortion in our laws that forces artists to subsidize the multi-billion-dollar FM radio broadcast industry. I applaud Senator Blackburn and Chairman Nadler for their continued commitment to ending this egregious inequity for American music creators.”
The NAB already has 201 House members and 25 Senators signed onto the Local Radio Freedom Act, a resolution opposing any new performance fee on local radio. With 425 House members and 100 Senators in Congress, and 2020 set to be a big election year, anything can happen. It’s important every radio manager stay involved in the process and work on their local elected officials. They are the same politicians that love to use your airways to get their message out when they run for office.