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Legislation Introduced To Pay Musicians For Radio Play

Ask Musicians for Music (AM-FM) Act Would Give Artists Say Before Their Work is Played on Radio

The American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFM) joined with other members of the music community today  in celebrating the introduction of bipartisan legislation in Congress that would end big radio’s ability to use music without first obtaining any form of permission from the people who recorded it.

“All musicians should be paid for all their work all the time—and that includes AM/FM radio, ” said AFM International President Ray Hair. “This bill would allow artists to control their own work and fairly negotiate with the large broadcasters for appropriate compensation for that work. We thank Chairman Nadler and Senator Blackburn for their leadership on this issue.”

The Ask Musicians for Music (AM-FM) Act was introduced by U.S. Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and by U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn. The AM-FM Act gives creators control of their own work by requiring broadcasters to obtain consent before playing—and profiting from—their music.

For many decades, radio broadcasters have made billions of dollars every year convincing their audience to listen to advertising with the promise of great music on the other side. Current law has allowed them to exploit music for profit without paying a penny to the artists who bring that music to life.

Under the AM-FM Act, artists who want to allow terrestrial radio to continue to use their work for free can choose to do so. Artists who seek compensation for their work can exercise their right to negotiate rates for the use of their sound recordings from broadcasters. Both bills provide special treatment by protecting small, public, college, and other non-commercial stations. A summary of the legislation can be found here.

The concept of obtaining permission before airing content is not new to broadcasters. In fact, the AM-FM Act asserts the same rights for music creators that broadcasters demand for themselves for the retransmission of tv content. Similarities between the AM-FM Act and the demands broadcasters make about their own content are illustrated here.