Virginia Pushes Truth In Music

Imposter act legislation continues to roll through the U.S., and a bill is currently being advanced in the Virginia House of Delegates.

The Truth in Music Advertising Act will penalize those who advertise or conduct live musical performances that make false or misleading connections between a performing group and the original group that recorded material.

Del. David Albo, who championed the bill, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that audiences who pay to see acts should be protected from unscrupulous bands or promoters.

"Say you want to see The Drifters," Albo said. "[And] there’s not a single guy in the band who was ever in The Drifters. It’s consumer fraud. It happens all the time."

But the bill isn’t just aimed to protect consumers. Albo told the paper the act will protect the original recording artists as well, who often have insufficient resources to go after imposters in court.

"A lot of these guys I know didn’t make the kind of money you’d think they would," he said.

The bill won’t apply to bands that hold trademarks or include at least one member of an original group who holds a legal right to use the moniker. Bands that expressly identify themselves both onstage and in advertising as tribute acts won’t be penalized either.

Violators could face fines up to $15,000 for each offense incurred.

Former Sha Na Na singer Jon "Bowzer" Bauman introduced the legislation to Albo, and has been lobbying for similar laws to be passed in many states. Bauman serves as chairman of the Vocal Group Hall of Fame’s Truth in Music Committee.

Bauman told Pollstar his reasons for pursuing the law when Pennsylvania passed a version in February.

"I’ve seen so many of the real pioneers of [doo-wop] music be ravaged by this," he said. "I’ve talked to people like Carl Gardner [Coasters] and Herb Reed [Platters] who are spending the later part of their lives doing this when they should be enjoying the fruits of their efforts in changing musical history. Instead, I watch them struggle while other people are taking their applause."

Similar legislation has been passed in Connecticut, Illinois, South Carolina and North Dakota, and variations are under consideration in a handful of other states.

Virginia’s legislation was endorsed in a 20-1 vote by the Commerce and Labor Committee January 11th, and will proceed to the House floor.