US artist rights organisation the musicFIRST Coalition has launched a new Music Fairness Action campaign. It aims to rally musicians and music fans to support the American Music Fairness Act, which would introduce - for the first time - a royalty from the broadcast of sound recordings on AM and FM radio stations in the US.
The campaign is fronted by Dionne Warwick, who says in a statement: “Everyone deserves to be paid for their work. Period. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. That’s a bedrock American value that most people in this country stand by. And that’s why artists across genres and generations - from Frank Sinatra to Common to Randy Travis, Becky G and so many others - have been speaking out in support of fair pay for AM/FM radio plays for decades”.
US copyright law is unusual, compared to most countries in the world, in that it does not provide full performing rights for sound recordings. As a result, AM and FM radio stations do not need to secure a licence to play recorded music (although they do for the songs), nor do they have to pay any royalties to artists and record labels for the music they play.
“This injustice has gone on for too long”, Warwick continues. “I’ve been fighting this fight since the 80s and others were fighting long before me. It’s time to finally right this wrong. I urge my fellow music-makers and music lovers to join me in calling on Congress to pass the American Music Fairness Act”.
The American Music Fairness Act was first put forward in Congress in 2021 and was passed by the House Judiciary Committee the following year. It was then reintroduced to Congress earlier this year.
Co-Chair of the musicFIRST Coalition, former senator Mark Pryor, says of the new campaign: “The United States is the only democratic country in the world where artists are not paid when their music is played on AM/FM radio”.
“We’re currently lumped in with the likes of Iran and North Korea when it comes to perpetuating this injustice - and that’s not the type of company that America ever wants to keep”, he goes on. “It’s time for Big Radio to compensate these hardworking artists for the use of their intellectual property, just as we expect of every other industry and music platform”.
‘Big Radio’ is, however, lobbying hard against the new act, and is also pushing its own proposals - the Local Radio Freedom Act - which would ensure that the status quo remains.