Common Frequency Supports the American Music Fairness Act

Submitted by Todd Urick on Sat, 07/03/2021 - 15:41

Representative's Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) announced legislation to extend royalty payments from broadcasters in the American Music Fairness Act.  The bill itself “is a response to the Local Radio Freedom Act championed by the National Association of Broadcasters,” which represents thousands of commercial broadcasters.

The central debate is that for decades broadcasters have been exempt for payment of royalties of music broadcast since they provide the service of publicity of music artists.  All other forms of media must pay these royalties.  The media landscape has changed since the advent of the internet.  Radio stations (still) have reaped large profits from the broadcast of music without the compensation of artists (sans the payment of music publisher royalties).  With other electronic distribution industries providing promotion of artists paying these royalty rates, with the excessive profitability of commercial radio, and artists that frequently of the losing end of the stick since consumers infrequently buy physical albums anymore, times have changed to how musicians can make money.

The broadcast industry's The Local Radio Freedom Act specifies that “local radio stations provide free publicity and promotion to the recording industry and performers of music” and that “there are many thousands of local radio stations that will suffer severe economic hardship if any new performance fee is imposed.”  

Common Frequency recently announced with other non-commercial co-supporters Future of Music, Music First, RECnet, Prometheus Radio Project, Media Alliance nd NFCB support for the American Music Fairness Act.  The Act makes special accommodation to small and non-commercial broadcasters, acknowledging the burden to those entities who do not profit or have constrictive budgets:

Commercial stations with annual revenues of less than $1.5 million -- less than $10 million for their parent company -- will pay an annual royalty of $500. Noncommercial stations with annual revenues of less than $1.5 million -- less than $10 million for their parent company -- will pay an annual royalty of $100. Commercial and noncommercial stations with annual revenues of less than $100,000 will pay an annual royalty of ten dollars.

Ten dollars represents a minimal expensive to many of the nonprofits that Common Frequency has assisted in starting new stations for licensing this music.

The legislation expects opposition from National Association of Broadcasters.