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‘Tis The Season of Holiday Music and Grinchy Compensation for Music Creators

19 December 2017

It’s that time of year when temperatures drop, colorful lights illuminate homes and cities, and shoppers frantically search for the perfect gifts for their loved ones. It’s also the time of year that holiday songs are heard everywhere – from stores and restaurants to offices and coffee shops.

According to Billboard, last year’s favorites for the week leading up to Christmas were:

1. All I Want for Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey (1994)
2. Jingle Bell Rock – Bobby Helms (1957)
3. Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee (1960)
4. Hallelujah – Pentatonix (2016, original by Leonard Cohen 1975)
5. It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year – Andy Williams (1963)
6. The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You) – Nat King Cole (1961)
7. A Holly Jolly Christmas – Burl Ives (1961)
8. Feliz Navidad – Jose Feliciano (1970)
9. Mary, Did You Know? – Pentatonix (2014, original recorded in 1991)
10. Last Christmas – Wham! (1986)

As listeners enjoy these songs this holiday season, they need to be aware of how the Grinch steals from music creators every season. Antiquated music laws are preventing recording artists of these popular songs from being fairly compensated when their holiday songs are played.

The Scrooges at radio stations don’t pay music creators a cent when recordings of our favorite holiday hitmakers play on rotation, earning the stations millions, if not billions, in advertising profits.

Satellite radio isn’t much better. Although SiriusXM pays current performers for the holiday hits they play, the royalty rates are well below market value.

But it’s the legendary artists behind many holiday classics that get the biggest lump of coal. A large majority of our holiday favorites, including classics like “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” were recorded before 1972. Because of a legal loophole, the creators of these hits are not being compensated for the countless times their songs are played on digital, satellite and terrestrial radio during the holiday season.

With streaming services becoming ever more popular, music listeners are able to choose from a wider variety of holiday music. We hope Santa Claus, er… Congress, will finally give music creators a long-overdue gift this holiday season by passing legislation so that they are paid fairly for their hard work across all music listening platforms.

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