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Fair Play Fair Pay Act returns to Congress yet again

The Fair Play Fair Pay Act has been re-introduced to Congress. This legislation would levy a performance royalty for airplay on AM/FM radio. Stations already pay royalties for songwriters/publishers, and the Fair Play Fair Pay Act would add a payment to performers on top of that.

In this iteration of the bill, stations with annual revenue of less than $1 million would get a break with a flat rate of $500 per-year and non-commercial stations would pay a flat $100 per-year for the performance royalty. News-talk and religious stations would pay no performance royalties under this proposal.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-NY, has led the charge for this bill, which has had several efforts to crack through congressional approval. “This would resolve the decades old struggle for performance rights and ensure that—for the first time—music creators would have the right to fair pay when their performances are broadcast on AM/FM radio,” Nadler said.

The topic of royalties for broadcasting has been a contentious one for the industry for years. Artists and performers want to be compensated, but radio stations have argued that additional fees would pose a serious financial threat. The effort is likely to continue being an uphill battle: 165 House members and 21 Senators have gone on record opposing this type of radio royalty fee.

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Anna Washenko

5 Comments

  1. Maybe the radio industry should get a share of all revenue generated from music sales…concerts and merchandise sales.

  2. Radio stations have argued that “additional fees would pose a serious financial threat”?
    Radio stations can’t afford $500 out of $1,000,000? That’s absurd.
    Please help me out with this, but isn’t the United States of America the only country in the world that doesn’t pay performers for the use of their music for radio broadcast?
    Up here in little ol’ Canada, with a market share the size of Detroit, performers are paid. Nobody has been made bankrupt so far.

    • The U.S. is one of very few countries which does not enact a performance royalty on broadcast radio. The $500 blanket fee for low-revenue stations is a new addition to the current version of Fair Play Fair Pay.

    • The issue isn’t that performers don’t get paid. But rather that writers get 100% of the royalty. An easy solution would be to change the metric. But the writers refuse to give up a portion of the money. So now the music industry wants a new royalty. Their problem is the performance royalty they enacted for digital has been disastrous. No one is happy with it. So to do the same is not very popular. The music industry likes to blame big radio. But in truth, iHeart and other big radio companies have already made outside deals to give US-based labels a portion of their broadcast revenue in exchange for a break on the digital royalty. If the so-called Fair Play Fair Pay act included such a provision, it might get more serious consideration. Although there are a number of small stations who will never accept paying for playing, and they consider it reverse payola. The US is the only country in the world that has payola laws, and they only apply to broadcasters, not digital.

  3. Does the equal platform parity provision mean that Internet only stations would also qualify for the $500 flat fee for revenues <$1 million as it would have under the 2015 bill? I haven't yet been able to review the text of the reintroduced bill…

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