Say No to Slashing Musicians' Pay

Today's vibrant music marketplace offers a number of dynamic radio platforms that give music fans what they want, when they want it, and where they want it. All music radio - AM/FM, cable, satellite, and Internet - should have to compensate artists for the use of their property.

The compulsory license for digital music radio services was created in 1995 and allowed cable and satellite services to transmit digital sound recordings without asking permission or negotiating with rights holders. Instead, these services paid a rate set by the government, according to a standard originally established in the 1970s. In 1998, Congress expanded the compulsory licensing to Internet radio and established a new rate standard to ensure that artists would be paid a market-oriented rate. However, certain cable and satellite services were "grandfathered" and continue to pay under the old, below-market subsidized rate standard.

Last week, a bill called the Internet Radio Fairness Act (H.R. 6480/S. 3609) was introduced, which would establish a below-market rate standard for the Internet radio services that are currently paying the market rate for digital licenses. That's a race to the bottom that will never create true parity, and which picks the pockets of recording artists by cutting back their digital compensation. Furthermore, the bill does not address the single most glaring injustice - that digital radio pays artists and terrestrial AM/FM radio does not.

AFM supports parity for all music radio platforms in the way the rate of compensation is set, so long as that rate standard applies across all radio platforms and results in rates that would otherwise be negotiated in a free market, and not government subsidized below-market rates imposed at the expense of creators and intellectual property owners.

A true compromise already exists - the Performance Rights Act, which was passed by the House and Senate Judiciary Committees in 2009. That bill righted two wrongs - (1) it gave performers and music creators the right to be compensated when their music is played on terrestrial radio, and (2) it finally created a level playing field between terrestrial and digital platforms. The bill also established a standard, market-based rate that would apply to all radio services, which was agreed to by all interested parties, including Internet radio companies like Pandora.

Use the form below to let Congress know that the Internet Radio Fairness Act is the wrong choice for bringing rate parity to radio platforms.