It’s pretty weird when you think about it: when you hear “I Will Always Love You” performed by Whitney Houston on AM/FM radio in the US, neither the Houston estate nor her label get paid. But songwriter Dolly Parton does receive compensation, along with her publisher. We love Dolly a ton, but this seems unfair. That’s because it is.
Things look much different in the rest of the world, where performers, labels, songwriters and publishers ALL get paid for radio play. Consider how certain genres of music—like jazz and r&b—are powered by performances. “Respect,” belted out by Aretha Franklin. “My Favorite Things” as interpreted by the great John Coltrane. Yet due to a weird loophole in US law that exempts radio stations from paying performers or labels, countless American artists have been unable to collect money owed to them for airplay here and abroad. The problem is particularly acute for performers who aren’t in a position to tour, such as older, so-called “legacy” artists. When it comes down to it, the lack of a public performance right for over-the-air broadcasting amounts to the government giving away music to the rest of the world for free.
Given how opposed the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has been to the concept of paying performing artists and sound copyright owners for the over-the-air broadcast of their work, we think this is pretty significant. Of course “significant” doesn’t mean inevitable. Let’s review the facts. read more
Yesterday, we told you a little bit about FMC's fight for artists' free speech and right to creative expression via a legal brief on the FCC's indecency policy. Well, we're at it again — this time in the form of FCC reply comments to a MusicFIRST petition originally filed with the Commission back in August. read more
Future of Music Coalition (FMC) respectfully submits these Reply Comments in the
above captioned proceeding regarding MusicFIRST?s Petition for a Declaratory Ruling
Regarding the Actions of Certain Radio Broadcasters in Opposition to the Performance
Rights Act.1 FMC has a long history of supporting the passage of legislation that would
establish a public performance right for sound recordings that would ensure that
performers are compensated when their work is played over the air, but more importantly
we are especially troubled by allegations that artists have been threatened with a loss of airplay as a result of their willingness to engage in a public policy debate. We appreciate the Commission?s attention to this important matter.
Today, the Federal Communications Commission published public comments on a petition filed by the musicFIRST Coalition. The original petition claims that certain radio stations are boycotting artists because of their support of a Public Performance Right for terrestrial (over-the-air) broadcasts. It also alleges that the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), has been airing "misleading" ads about the Performance Right, and that member stations have refused to accept paid commercial messages from musicFIRST -- a group including labels, musicians' unions, SoundExchange and hundreds of musicians. read more
In the United States, royalties for public performances are paid to songwriters, composers and publishers. But what about the person who performs the song?
Consider this. When you hear Counting Crows’ recording of ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ on the radio in the US, Joni Mitchell – the composer of ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ – is compensated through BMI. But Counting Crows receive nothing for this performance.
However, if you hear the same performance on Sirius XM, or via a webcast, or on a cable music station – even on that terrestrial radio station’s webcast — both Joni Mitchell AND Counting Crows are compensated.
Why the difference? US terrestrial broadcasters are exempt from paying a public performance right for sound recordings. read more