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Musicians Oppose the Local Radio Freedom Act

Large broadcasters are using their influence in Washington D.C. to preserve the subsidy that ensures they don’t have to play by the same rules as other music platforms—and pay musicians fairly for their hard work. Big Radio is lobbying to recruit supporters for their favorite resolution: The Local Radio Freedom Act (LRFA).

There’s nothing “local” about LRFA or radio itself. Consolidation within the radio industry over the last decade has resulted in ten radio corporations owning hundreds of stations across the country. These ten broadcast behemoths are responsible for about half of the revenue generated by the nearly $15 billion radio industry.

Through LRFA, the radio industry is renewing their effort in Congress to maintain a carve-out which gives them a huge competitive advantage over innovative services like SiriusXM, Spotify, Pandora, and Apple Music—it allows them not to compensate musicians for their work, while other services do.

The U.S. shouldn’t be in the business of protecting Big Radio at the expense of musicians who are simply looking to be paid for their work. It isn’t fair.

musicFirst sent a letter to  Congress urging lawmakers to oppose this damaging legislation. AFM is a founding member of musicFIRST, which is a national coalition of the music community representing artists, unions, and record labels that supports paying music creators when their work is played on any platform. Read the text of the musicFirst letter below:

You already have been or soon will be asked to sponsor the “Local Radio Freedom Act” (LRFA), H.Con.Res. 20.  We urge you to NOT cosponsor this resolution. 

Through LRFA, the radio industry is trying to preserve the subsidy that keeps terrestrial radio from having to play by the same rules as other music platforms. Digital radio services including SiriusXM, Pandora and Spotify must pay performance royalties for the sound recordings they play, while terrestrial radio, including the largest and most profitable broadcasters in the country, use those same recordings for free.

Turning a blind eye to the inequities they promote, broadcasters make the rounds every year to ask Members of Congress to sign the misleading and anti-artist Local Radio Freedom Act. The resolution states that radio should never pay for its only input – music – unfairly calling any compensation to artists and music creators a “tax.” 

Labor groups and leading taxpayer advocates, from the AFL-CIO to Citizens Against Government Waste, oppose LRFA and have publicly denounced the idea that paying artists for their work could be considered a “tax.” It is fair compensation for work. No one makes more money from recorded music than broadcasters, and yet they pay nothing to the artists who bring that music to life.

When someone does work, they should be paid for it, especially when others make a profit off of it. As such, we ask that you support working music creators and NOT cosponsor the Local Radio Freedom Act.

Thank you in advance for supporting American workers.