Legislators kick off performance royalty push


The two Judiciary Committee chairs, Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and John Conyers (D-MI), with an assist from a bipartisan posse of US Representatives, are joining with the American Federation of Musicians and the musicFirst Coalition in a “nationwide push” to extract performance royalties from radio stations. Howard Berman (D-CA), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). AFM’s aim is to “close the corporate radio loophole and establish a fair performance right on radio for American artists and musicians.”

The Coalition cites the billions in advertising revenue enjoyed by radio while the musicians who make it all possible go uncompensated, and notes that there are royalties attached to other audio media.

In a statement, the coalition said, “People who love music understand that creativity, talent and hard work are required to bring it to life. The goal of the musicFIRST (Fairness in Radio Starting Today) Coalition is to ensure that aspiring performers, local musicians and well-known artists are compensated for their music when it is played both today and in the future.”

Member organizations of the Coalition include: American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFM), American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), Christian Music Trade Association (CMTA), Music Managers Forum – USA (MMF- USA), The Latin Recording Academy, The Recording Academy, The Rhythm & Blues Foundation, Inc, Recording Artists’ Coalition (RAC), Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Society of Singers, SoundExchange and Vocal Group Hall of Fame.

RBR/TVBR observation: It just sounds right, doesn’t it? The musicians should be paid for their performance. Of course, the whole debate starts from the assumption that the free exposure given to musicians by radio is itself without value – but you have to ignore the billions of dollars in recording sales generated by airplay to make that argument. However, we fully expect that even if the performance royalty is enacted, musicians will still have trouble getting paid, because a lot of the cash will stick to the corporate offices of corporate recording companies.