The NAB was opposed to the Performance Royalty bill, so not happy to see it voted out of committee, but pleased at the bipartisan opposition within the House Judiciary Committee. musicFIRST, on the other hand, was celebrating victory.
“We applaud Chairman Conyers and Committee members for their work on the Performance Rights Act and for supporting artists, musicians and rights holders in their fight for fair compensation when their music is used by AM and FM radio stations. Our continued momentum in Congress is proof that it’s well past time to recognize the importance of fairly compensating the artists and musicians whose talent and hard work allows radio to generate billions of dollars in ad revenue each year,” said musicFIRST Coalition Executive Director Jennifer Bendall.
“Corporate radio’s days of hiding behind a loophole in the copyright law are over. For over 80 years, Big Radio has had a free pass to play music. All other music platforms – satellite, cable and Internet radio stations – pay artists, musicians and rights holders for the use of their music. It’s only fair that AM and FM radio be held to the same standards. The Performance Rights Act will bring fairness to artists, musicians and rights holders and one that’s fair to radio and its counterparts. It also includes accommodations for small and minority-owned broadcasters. musicFIRST looks forward to the next chapter and to Congress to ensure that U.S. artists and musicians receive the performance right they deserve,” Bendall added.
Not long ago observers had expected minimal opposition to the Conyers bill within the Judiciary Committee, so NAB saw some hope in the 21-9 vote.
“We were pleasantly surprised by the considerable bipartisan opposition to a performance tax, even in a committee where support for the record labels is strongest. NAB applauds these nine members for standing with America’s hometown radio stations, their 235 million weekly listeners, and the yet-to-break artists who will lose their number one promotional platform if this bill is enacted,” said NAB Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton.
“Nearly half the House of Representatives already opposes RIAA efforts to feather the nest of foreign record labels. Record label abuse of artists from Count Basie to Prince is well-documented, as evidenced by scores of lawsuits filed by musicians cheated out of royalties. Moving forward, the fundamental question is this: If the debate is about ‘fairness to artists,’ why should the record labels get one penny from a performance tax on radio stations?” Wharton added.
Here’s a differing view:
“The American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada applauds Chairman Conyers and Committee members for approving the Performance Rights Act and for recognizing how important it is to ensure that performers are paid for their hard work.
Most performers are not rich, but hardworking men and women trying to make a living. A source of income is being denied to these men and women by over-the-air AM/FM radio, which gets its advertising revenue and listeners from the popularity of their recordings. The Performance Rights Act would give performers a fair recognition of the value their recordings bring to radio. A royalty payment of just a fraction of a cent per song would have a big impact on working musicians.
This legislation will close the loophole in the copyright law and end the free pass that terrestrial radio has enjoyed to play music without paying the royalties that all other music platforms — including satellite, cable and Internet radio stations — pay artists, musicians and rights holders for the use of their recordings.
The AFM now urges Congress to continue the momentum and ensure that U.S. artists and musicians receive the performance right they deserve,” said AFM President Thomas F. Lee.