SoundExchange praised today’s introduction of the American Music Fairness Act in the United States Senate as a significant step forward in ensuring economic justice for creators whose work is played on AM/FM radio.
The bipartisan American Music Fairness Act, introduced by Senators Marcia Blackburn (R-TN) and Alex Padilla (D-CA), would require large broadcasters such as iHeartMedia, Audacy, and Cumulus Media to pay performance royalties for their use of sound recordings, while also providing relief for smaller stations or public stations via a modest annual flat fee. The House Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on a companion bill (H.R. 4130) this fall, setting the stage for Congressional action by year’s end.
“The American Music Fairness Act is a necessary and overdue step towards bringing the music industry into the 21st century,” said Michael Huppe, President and CEO, SoundExchange. “It ends decades of injustice of denying music creators payment for their work on AM/FM radio and levels the playing field between traditional broadcasts and streaming platforms. This is a common-sense blueprint for a healthier and fairer music industry, and we strongly support its passage on behalf of our 570,000 creator community.”
Currently, the process for compensating music creators is disjointed and unfair. For example, recording artists and labels are paid when their music is played on streaming services such as SiriusXM, but not on one of iHeart’s 860-plus over-the-air radio stations around the country.
The legislation, which is supported by 70 percent of Americans according to an April survey conducted by Survey Monkey, strikes a balance by creating a level playing field among music services while ensuring the viability of true, locally owned and operated radio stations. It achieves this balance by requiring broadcast corporations whose gross annual revenue is greater than $1.5 million – or stations owned by parent companies whose annual revenue tops $10 million – to pay fair-market royalties, while minimizing the impact on public and college stations by instituting an annual flat fee ranging from $10 to $500 depending on the type of broadcaster.
“Music creators spend years, even decades, perfecting their craft and inspiring their listeners. The very least we should do in return is pay them for their work. They are our family, our friends, our neighbors,” added Huppe. “They are simply asking for a rightful share of the $10 billion broadcasters earn by playing their music on AM/FM radio.”
SoundExchange is a fierce advocate for the rights of music creators and has distributed more than $9 billion in streaming royalties to date. SoundExchange is a member of the musicFIRST coalition, which works to ensure music creators get fair pay for their work on all platforms; is a leader in the effort to secure royalties for creators both in the United States and abroad; and advocates before the Copyright Royalty Board over rate-setting on digital streaming services. SoundExchange regularly speaks before policymakers to highlight the challenges faced by creators in collecting fair compensation for their work.