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Record industry campaign group makes another call for radio royalties in the US as iHeart announces big gambling deal

By | Published on Friday 5 November 2021


Music industry campaign group the musicFIRST Coalition has used the announcement of a big old partnership deal between US broadcast giant iHeart and betting company DraftKings to again criticise the American radio industry for not paying any royalties to artists and labels for music played on AM/FM stations.

Nasdaq-listed betting company DraftKings is now “the official odds supplier for iHeartMedia’s broadcast, digital, podcast and social platforms”, and will “co-create and distribute long-form content with iHeartMedia” while receiving “preferred access to iHeartMedia’s full roster of diverse personalities”.

So that’s all good news. For DraftKings. And iHeart. Though the big bucks sponsorship deal won’t help any of the artists or labels whose music is played on iHeart’s main music stations.

Because, of course, under US copyright law the owners of sound recordings don’t enjoy full performing rights, meaning AM/FM radio stations do not need a licence from the record industry, or to pay any royalties to artists or labels.

It’s a quirk of American copyright law that the record industry has been trying to amend for decades, with recent efforts centred on the proposed American Music Fairness Act. But broadcasters like iHeart continue to lobby hard against any changes to US copyright law, arguing that artists and labels who get airplay on their music stations get free promo and should be happy with that.

Keen to keep those efforts to get a radio royalty for recordings on the political agenda, the musicFIRST Coalition responded to iHeart’s big gambling deal yesterday.

“Instead of doing the right thing and ending a century-old injustice by paying music creators when their music is played on AM/FM radio, billionaire broadcasters are focused on inking a new gambling partnership with DraftKings”, it said in a statement. “That deal is sure to enrich iHeart and the other billion-dollar broadcasters. Yet they refuse to pay a dime to hard-working American artists. This is why Congress needs to act so music creators are paid fairly for their work”.