Business News Legal Media

musicFIRST chair accuses US radio giants of hypocrisy

By | Published on Monday 8 August 2022

musicFIRST Coalition

The Chairman of the musicFIRST Coalition in the US – former Congress member Joe Crowley – last week accused American radio giants iHeart and Cumulus of hypocrisy after they bigged up their profits to investors on Wall Street while simultaneously telling law-makers in Washington that they can’t afford to pay royalties to record labels and recording artists.

Due to a quirk in American copyright law, when radio stations play music in the US they don’t need a licence from or to pay royalties to the record industry, so labels and artists. They do pay royalties to music publishers and songwriters, but – when it comes to sound recordings – there is a gap in the American copyright system which means labels and artists don’t earn when music is aired on AM and FM radio stations.

The US record industry has been campaigning for decades now to reform American copyright law – to bring it in line with much of the rest of the world in this domain, so that labels and artists would get radio royalties. But so far without success, mainly because the US broadcasting sector – led by the likes of iHeart and Cumulus – is a powerful lobby in Washington.

The most recent efforts to get a radio royalty for recordings Stateside are based around the proposed American Music Fairness Act, and musicFIRST continues to lobby hard to try and win support for those proposals in Congress.

Responding to last week’s investor updates from the radio giants, Crowley said in a statement: “Once again, greedy broadcasters are brazenly showing their hypocrisy. During their quarterly earnings calls this week, iHeart and Cumulus crowed to Wall Street about how much money they are making. At the same moment they are spotlighting their dramatic profit increases, on Capitol Hill, they whine to lawmakers about how they can’t afford to pay music creators a single cent when their music is played on AM/FM radio”.

“It’s long past time for us to stop subsidising big radio’s profits off the backs of hard-working artists”, he went on. “It’s time for Congress to stand with artists – and 70% of the American public – by swiftly passing the American Music Fairness Act, which requires multi-billion-dollar radio corporations to finally pay their fair share. It’s just the right thing to do”.