It’s time for radio stations to level the playing field for artists – The News Herald

Here’s a thought experiment – imagine you own a restaurant that offers both catering and delivery services. However, due to an outdated law, your customers weren’t required to pay for food ordered from delivery apps. In both cases (dinner on site or delivery), the customer receives the same product, but since the delivery mechanism was different, he will not have to pay the invoice. Obviously, your business is missing out on the revenue it should obviously be entitled to.

If that sounds weird to you, you might be surprised that this is how we treat music these days. While streaming services, online platforms, and even satellite radio stations are all required to pay musical artists when they use their work, due to outdated law, AM/FM radio stations” terrestrial” are not.

AM/FM stations can play all the music content they want – and pocket significant profits from advertising sales in the process – without paying a single penny to the artists who created the recording and thus legally own part of the ownership. .

Back to catering, it would mean that your delivery “customers” could take your food without paying and then sell that same food to someone else for a handsome profit – all without sharing that money with you, the restaurateur who made it all possible.

It goes without saying that whether you stream a song on Spotify, listen to it on the radio, or buy an album from the store, the artists and music creators who produced those recordings should be compensated appropriately. for their hard work in creating this product. . It’s not complicated. In fact, it’s capitalism 101: if you use a good or service provided by someone else, you pay for it. But that’s not what broadcasters are doing now. They free-ride on the backs of hard-working artists – to the tune of 714 million songs a year.

This status quo is not only bizarre. That’s flat out wrong – and it’s been that way for decades.

There should be a level playing field – just like there are if you dine in or order delivery and in virtually every other industry in America. And thankfully, U.S. Representatives Ted Deutch (D-Florida) and Darrell Issa (R-California) are leading a bipartisan effort to do so via the American Music Fairness Act.

This overdue bill will finally bring our laws governing radio royalties for artists into the 21st century, while strengthening U.S. protections for intellectual property. As the holder of over 30 patents himself, Issa is uniquely qualified to lead this effort.

In addition to leveling the playing field at home, the American Music Fairness Act would also unlock additional royalty dollars overseas and finally allow them to return to the United States. For years, foreign countries that pay artists when their songs are played on radio have withheld those payments from American artists, since we don’t reciprocate. By finally updating our laws and paying all artists fairly for national radio airplay, our artists will finally be able to access the foreign royalties they have earned but have not received to date, which will bring an additional $20 million a year to the US economy. .

The American Music Fairness Act also aims to protect local radio by including exemptions for small broadcasters, as well as college and non-commercial stations, ensuring that no truly local station pays more than $2 a day for the entire music she needs to play. This legislation is not a cash grab from small town radio stations, but an effort to ensure that large, profitable stations will finally pay for their product like everyone else.

It’s time to end the free-rider problem in music – and this is the bill to do it.

Jon Decker is the executive director of American Commitment. He wrote this for

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