The proposal, co-sponsored by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Brentwood, is a priority for the Recording Academy, whose members say such a law would bring the U.S. more into line with the rest of the world, keep pace with changes in the technology of music consumption and fairly compensate artists whenever AM or FM radio plays their songs.
“Their product is still being used as a product that an entity profits from — they’re making money on it — but the individual that created that product doesn’t get any share of that,” Blackburn said Thursday.
Blackburn and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., are sponsoring the Fair Play Fair Pay Act, which would end the practice among AM and FM radio stations of not paying royalties to artists and labels, based on the premise that radio play is a form of promotion and drives record sales.
George Flanigen, chairman emeritus of the Recording Academy, was among the musicians and songwriters who fanned out across Capitol Hill on Thursday to meet with lawmakers and press them to support the legislation. He said the old model no longer works in the modern world of satellite radio and Internet streaming.
But the proposal is strongly opposed by the National Association of Broadcasters. It calls the idea a performance tax that would financially burden local radio stations, which still reach 265 million Americans a week.
“It is disappointing that this bill retreads years-old policy positions rather than advancing the copyright dialogue through policies that help grow the entire music ecosystem,” NAB Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton said when the bill was introduced.
Instead, the broadcasters are advocating for legislation that would prohibit payment of royalties by broadcast radio stations. It's picked up 225 co-sponsors in the U.S. House.