Reps Back Fair Play Fair Pay Act

Two Congressional reps announced April 13 the introduction of the Fair Play Fair Pay Act that will modernize rules governing music licensing for digital and AM/FM radio broadcasts.

Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Congressman Marsha Black (R-Tenn.) are co-sponsors of the bill with Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr., and Congressman Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) in partnership with the musicFIRSTCoalition, which represents musicians, recording artists, managers, music businesses and performance rights advocates.

“For decades, AM/FM radio has used whatever music it wants without paying a cent to the musicians, vocalists, and labels that created it. Satellite radio has paid below market royalties for the music it uses, growing into a multibillion dollar business on the back of an illogical ‘grandfathered’ royalty standard that is now almost two decades old,” Nadler said in a statement.

If passed, the Fair Play Fair Pay Act would create a terrestrial performance right so that AM/FM radio competes on equal footing with its Internet and satellite competitors who already pay performance royalties.

This would resolve the decades-old struggle for performance rights and ensure that – for the first time – music creators would have the right to fair pay when their performances are broadcast on AM/FM radio. The bill intends to ensure terrestrial royalties are affordable, cap royalties for stations with less than $1 million in annual revenue at $500 per year (and at $100 a year for non-commercial stations), and protect religious and incidental uses of music from having to pay any royalties at all. It would make clear that pre-1972 recordings have value and those profiting from them must pay appropriate royalties for their use, ensure that artists receive their fair share from direct licensing of all performances eligible for the statutory license, and songwriters and publishers would be protected from any reduction in songwriting royalties.