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Music industry welcomes renewed support from US community radio groups for proposed new royalty

By | Published on Tuesday 28 February 2023

musicFIRST Coalition

The musicFIRST organisation in the US has welcomed renewed support from community and grassroots radio groups for the American Music Fairness Act, which would introduce radio royalties for American artists and record labels for the first time.

That community broadcasters support the proposed new law is key for musicFIRST and others in the music industry lobbying for the act, as the big commercial radio companies are prone to use the potential impact of any new royalty commitments on smaller independents as a reason for opposing the proposals.

US copyright law is unusual in not providing full performing rights for sound recordings, meaning that AM/FM radio stations do not need to get a licence from or pay royalties to the record industry. AMFA is the latest attempt by the music industry to bring US copyright in line with most other copyright systems around the world, providing artists and labels with a radio royalty.

It is strongly opposed by the big radio firms, who have always enjoyed a lot of influence in Washington. They also have their own proposals in US Congress – the Local Radio Freedom Act – which are really non-proposals, in that they seek to keep the current system in place. Both AMFA and LRFA have been reintroduced into the latest session of Congress.

When the former was reintroduced earlier this month, six organisations representing community radio groups in the US confirmed in an open letter that they support AMFA, and are happy that the special provisions in it for the smallest radio stations are workable and fair.

“As supporters of community broadcasting, including community radio, college radio and low power FM, we believe that the relationship between community stations and musicians should continue to be mutually supportive”, they wrote.

“AMFA accomplishes this by offering a balanced approach”, they added, “ensuring that performing musicians are compensated, as is already the case in most of the world, without placing an undue burden on small and noncommercial broadcasters”.

With the US National Association Of Broadcasters actively lobbying against any new radio royalty once again this week, musicFIRST yesterday noted and welcomed the ongoing support of those community radio groups for AMFA.

“As the NAB prepares to descend on Capitol Hill this week for their annual ‘fly-in’ event, six organisations that represent and/or advocate for community broadcasters are sending a message that the AMFA is good for small, community-focused stations”, it said in a statement.

Meanwhile, musicFIRST Chair Joe Crowley added: “As the NAB heads to Washington this week to lobby on behalf of its big radio bosses, musicFIRST will continue to be an advocate for community broadcasters by demanding passage of AMFA so small broadcasters will be able to play unlimited music for less than $2 per day – giving these community treasures the affordability and certainty they need to thrive far into the future”.