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musicFIRST welcomes global support for Fair Play Fair Pay Act

By | Published on Wednesday 22 July 2015


American music community lobbying group musicFIRST has thanked artists from across the world for lending their support to the previously reported Fair Play Fair Pay Act that is currently under consideration in the US.

Artists were encouraged to publicly back the proposed legislation via social media last week. The act would introduce a general performing right within the sound recording copyright in the US. Currently sound recording copyright owners in America only have a digital performing right, meaning that while satellite and online radio services need permission to use recorded music, clubs, public spaces and AM/FM radio do not. This means US artists and labels are deprived a revenue stream enjoyed by their counterparts in more or less every other country.

There have been numerous attempts over the years to bring US copyright law in line with the rest of the world on this point, but the broadcast lobby in particular is very influential in Washington, and it argues that having to pay record companies as well as music publishers for the rights to use music is unviable, and anyway artists and labels get free promotion when their tracks are played on air.

Elton John, REM, Chuck D, Annie Lennox and Imogen Heap were amongst those who took to the social networks last week to express their support for the Fair Play Fair Pay Act. And while record labels obviously want a general performing right too, this is a proposal from which artists would likely benefit directly as well, as usually ‘performer equitable remuneration’ is due on performing rights income, meaning 50% of revenue is shared with featured artists and session musicians oblivious of their label contracts.

musicFIRST is one of the bodies lobbying hard for the proposed act, and after last week’s online campaign its Executive Dirctor, Ted Kalo, told reporters: “This movement is built on a simple principle that grabs the imagination of everyone we touch – fair play for all music on all platforms. The basic justice and fairness of this demand explains why so many are moved to speak out. The fact that the United States has aligned its system for compensating artists with regimes like Iran and North Korea is shameful. It is destructive to the future of American music and threatens the art of a new generation of artists”.

Noting that last week’s social campaign was global, Kalo added: “Some of the musicians supporting this bill are from countries where radio already pays a performance right and radio is still alive and well in those countries – contradicting the ‘sky is falling’ claims of big corporate radio in the United States. America’s failure to recognise AM/FM performance rights costs our artists dearly. They receive nothing for US airplay, so the royalties they earn overseas are withheld because the United States refuses to reciprocate – over $100 million owed to US artists is stranded overseas as a result”.

He concluded: “musicFIRST is grateful for the support of so many artists, musicians, managers and fans worldwide. Big corporate radio is on notice: we have our own megaphone driven by people, not money”.