How many of you out there know about the controversy surrounding the “Performance Rights Act”? Whoa! Calm down! I had no idea everyone was so emotionally invested in congressional bills H.R. 848 and S. 379.
For the few of you who don’t know, the Performance Rights Act is a piece of legislation that, if passed, would require terrestrial radio stations (regular ol’ radio stations) to pay performing artists and labels for broadcasting their music. Thought that was already happening? Nope, only songwriters and publishers get paid for airplay. So if you hear an artist on the radio, that doesn’t necessarily mean their making coin off of it. Sound complicated? The plot thickens.
The Media Institute recently released a paper that argues against the Public Performance Right Act. They reason that because radio airplay increases album sales for the artists and labels whose recordings are played, radio stations shouldn’t have to pay royalties on top of what amounts to free promotion. The current system is a “symbiotic relationship” that is both “fair and equitable.” The paper maintains that many stations couldn’t afford this new fee and would either go belly up or be forced to a non-music format. So, they argue, unless we’d be content with just a handful of talk radio stations, we shouldn’t pass this bill.
Of course, it’s not so simple. Satellite and internet broadcasters currently pay royalties to performing artists and their labels, so one might wonder why terrestrial radio should be exempt? And, the vast majority of foreign countries have laws that require radio stations to pay performance related royalties, so why not in the US?
It’s hard to figure out who’s being greedy and who’s getting robbed. But someone’s livelihood is definitely at stake, so we’ll keep you posted on any developments.
• The Media Institute: http://www.mediainstitute.org