The Royalty Fight is On


And it will all come down how many elected officials in Washington want radio to pay artists to air their music, and how many believe it’s a fair value-for-value model.
Two House Representatives are framing their side of the debate by saying radio is being unfair, they make billions on the backs of these artists and its time to pay up.

On Thursday morning in Washington, DC, U.S. Representatives Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Darrell Issa (R-CA) introduced the American Music Fairness Act, which is legislation
requiring radio stations to pay artists for airing their songs.

The legislation includes an exemption for stations that generate less than $1.5 million in annual revenue and whose parent company generates less than $10 million. Those stations would pay $500 per year for unlimited music.

The real target is the bigger stations. What the big companies would pay, if this Bill passes, would be determined by the Copyright Royalty Board in the rate-setting process. It’s a complicated formula determined by the three-judge panel and is typically based on revenues for non-exempted stations.

Representative Deutch said what’s taking place now is unfair to artists. “Across America, recording artists and music creators are working to build a good life for themselves and their families by playing the music they love, but the rules are rigged against them. For far too long, our broken system has let FM/AM radio stations get away with refusing to pay artists when they play their music. It’s time to right this wrong, because paying people for their hard work is the fair thing to do. This bipartisan bill will require that corporate broadcasters fairly compensate recording artists and music creators when they play their songs on FM/AM radio.”

Representative Issa says the rights of artists need to be protected. “Since the global pandemic shuttered live venues, closed recording studios and music makers have struggled almost as never before, corporate broadcasters have continued to profit from the artists and musicians whose performances make all of it possible. It’s time for all of them to receive compensation for their hard work and timeless art. I’m proud to stand with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and introduce the American Music Fairness Act.”

musicFIRST Chairman Joe Crowley commented following the press conference. “The rules have been rigged in favor of a few massive, multi-billion-dollar media companies for far too long. I’m thankful my former colleagues are taking up this cause. The introduction of the American Music Fairness Act is a crucial step in the fight for music fairness, and I’ll do everything in my power to help ensure it gets signed into law. It’s time to balance the scales and ensure that hard-working artists all over this country are paid fairly for everything they do to make the music we love.”


    • They get the money from SoundExchange, which was designated by Congress to distribute the money. The record labels distribute sales royalties.

  1. Here’s the real story here. The NAB offered to voluntarily pay artists and labels 11 years ago. The top 10 largest radio companies all signed on to this deal. The recording industry turned it down. They want a royalty right passed by congress. Several indie record labels made a deal with iHeart, and they’re already getting paid right now. If the major labels would do the same, they could get paid too. But that’s not what they want. They want Congress to pass a bill for them. Good luck getting anything out of this congress. It’s not going to happen.

  2. Reynolds Chase….what rock has your dumbass been hiding under????!!! Radio have not ever had a free ride. Radio (AM/FM) along with internet stations pay their fair share to BMI, SEASAC, ASCAP, SOUNDEXCHANGE. If it were not for these media outlets, the artist would be on some street corner or smokey bar trying to get attention for their works. Maybe us broadcasters should start sending a bill to the record labels and artist every time their works are aired… and then raise our rates. Our air time is as valuable as the artist creations….so don’t give anyone that crap that radio is getting a free ride. Maybe instead of trying to put the mouth that feeds you out o business, perhaps the artist should start going after these licensing agencies and demand their payments from the various licensing agencies.

    WAKE UP!

    • Oh Joshy, I and everyone else in radio are already quite aware of what radio pays. It’s a joke compared to digital royalty amounts. You’re making the same, old tired and worn out arguments that have been made for the last five decades. YOU and royalty deniers will never comprehend that the world has changed. The fact that this is a bipartisan initiative pretty much assures it will pass. If anyone needs to wake up, it’s you and other terrestrial radio folk who can’t see the writing on the wall. There’s always talk radio, if you want to remain stubborn and resistant.

      • “It’s a joke compared to digital royalty amounts.”

        Actually that’s not true. The digital royalty is a fraction of a penny. The royalty radio pays to ASCAP & BMI is much higher.

        “The fact that this is a bipartisan initiative pretty much assures it will pass.”

        They do this every year. It’s always bi-partisan, and goes nowhere. It’s DOA. BTW if you read the bill, even talk radio will be required to pay for “incidental music.” Do some research.

        • Of course talk radio will. They are using someone’s MUSIC to enhance their programming. Everyone has to pay PRO royalties, it’s the total amount being referred to. Keep selectively reading and interpreting though and end it with a do some research swipe since it makes you feel better.

  3. Thanks to the radio when artists were not working last year, the artist names were kept alive through radio. We are not talking about home entertainment want to be DJ’s we are talking about REAL Radio stations that have paid ASCAP BMI AND SEA-SAC FOR YEARS. NO FREE RIDES.

  4. The artists forget that without radio, their music will not reach an immediate audience. Radio, as a business, is shaky enough without a shakedown from musicians wanting national exposure.

  5. And it’s about friggin’ time! Pay up radio, the free ride is over. People don’t buy music anymore, they stream it. Fighting the inevitable is futile and just another example of living in the dark ages!

    • “People don’t buy music anymore, they stream it.”

      And when they stream their favorite AM or FM station, the artists and labels all get paid. They always have. Radio pays a licensing fee to play music, whether it’s on the air or online. Everything is done legally.


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