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The Results Are In: Americans Overwhelmingly Support Fair Compensation For Artists on AM/FM Radio
MusicFIRST is known globally as the voice for fairness and equity for music creators, so their pronouncements carry a great deal of weight in this community.
And their latest poll sends an unequivocal message about how Americans feel about musicians' rights: by a two-to-one margin, it found that Americans believe it's unfair that artists are not paid when their music is played on AM/FM radio.
The results are a referendum on the current paradigm in the corporate radio landscape—where profits come first and music creators come last. For decades, gargantuan corporate broadcasters like iHeartRadio and Cumulus Media have refused to pay artists despite collecting billions in advertising revenue every year.
By any measure, this is unjust: these broadcasting giants need music creators' works to fill their airwaves, which is the only way to attract advertisers. By refusing to remunerate those who make the music in the first place, they're essentially saying they can have their cake and eat it too.
What's more, the modern economic hardship of musicians—it's a different ballgame stateside than it is in countries around the world that fairly compensate music makers—has reached a new nadir with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Granted, many Americans aren't aware of the granular details of the corporate broadcasting landscape—it's safe to say the results of the poll were a matter of gut moral instincts. Regardless of the details, though, most agree on one thing: to deny creators income from airplay is indefensible.
As the poll shows, this conviction is only deepened in the average American when they learn the details. Upon being exposed to the knowledge that broadcasters not only stiff artists but leverage their National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) lobbyists to reinforce the status quo—hung on the canard that it protects local radio—it became ever more clear that this wrong requires righting.
Now's the time to fight back against these injustices in the corporate broadcasting landscape by passing legislation that would require the multibillion-dollar radio stations to pay artists fairly. That’s why the Recording Academy is supporting the American Music Fairness Act (AMFA), a new bill that requires broadcasters to fairly compensate artists. And Americans agree— 54% of Americans would support such Congressional action like the AMFA becoming law. It's heartening to know that the American public is ready and willing to contest this outrage on the airwaves.