Photo: Fotosipsak/Getty Images
Congress: It's Time To Side With Music Creators Over Big Radio
The Constitution of the United States guarantees creators the right to control their own intellectual property. However, AM/FM radio seems to be the final content landscape where these constitutional rights are rendered null and void on a practical scale.
Massive radio corporations earn billions in advertising revenue from the work of countless performers and recording artists, who don't earn a single cent for the usage of their work. For 100 years, American artists have earned nothing for music played on radio across the U.S., and if corporate radio has its way in Washington, they’ll keep the royalty rate at $0.00.
During each new session of Congress, these billion-dollar corporations head to Capitol Hill to seek support for the so-called “Local Radio Freedom Act” (LRFA). The seemingly harmless-sounding resolution appears to be an avenue to promote broadcast localism, but it is in fact something very different. In actuality, the non-binding resolution, which is pushed by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), hurts creators by placing Congress on the other side of the fulcrum. LRFA puts members of Congress on the record against paying the artists and performers in their district. Congressional support of this contentious and obsolete resolution forces members of Congress to take a stand against fairness and intellectual property rights.
LRFA will be introduced in Congress any day now, with the radio industry already on Capitol Hill asking Congress for support for its anti-artist agenda. This corporate radio loophole makes broadcast radio the only industry in America that can use another's intellectual property without permission or compensation.
There is hope on the horizon. Many lawmakers across the political spectrum, along with leaders in the music and arts community, support common-sense reform that ensure creators are always compensated for their own work, while ensuring true community broadcasters can continue to thrive. In short, they are on the side of the creators themselves, who often lack leverage in this debate due to the NAB’s incredibly deceptive messaging campaign.
Fixing this loophole would also benefit music creators in the United States when their music is broadcast internationally. American artists collectively are due over $200 million annually in overseas royalties from radio play in foreign markets, but can't collect their royalties because the U.S. does not reciprocate with our own performance right. If Congress listened to artists back home, instead of Big Radio, that money would be unlocked and repatriated back stateside.
Music creators deserve to be fairly compensated and it's up to the 117th Congress to side with music creators instead of Big Radio. This misleading radio resolution will only delay true reform—and already beleaguered creators will continue to suffer because of it.