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Congressman Joe Crowley Named Chairman of musicFIRST, Will Lead Campaign for Music Fairness

25 May 2021

Washington, D.C. (May 25, 2021) — musicFIRST — the voice for fairness and equity for music creators — today announced that former Congressman Joe Crowley (NY-14) will serve as the coalition’s Chairman and lead efforts to rectify a decades-long injustice that denies artists payment when their music is played on traditional radio.

Congressman Crowley will oversee Capitol Hill efforts to enact legislation to finally get artists paid when their music is played on FM/AM radio stations. Despite the hundreds of billions of dollars that large media corporations such as iHeartRadio have been paid by advertisers, they have never shared that money with artists.

“Throughout my entire career in public service, I’ve stood with Americans looking for a fair shake. My work with musicFIRST is taking on the same kind of fight. For every blockbuster star, there are thousands of artists who are struggling to make ends meet — and COVID has only made the situation worse. We need to change the rules that are rigged in favor of a few big, billion-dollar media companies and ensure that hardworking creators get paid when their work is played on the radio,” said Congressman Crowley. “I am eager to build upon the work and advocacy efforts of musicFIRST as we continue to take serious strides toward achieving fair compensation for all music creators.”

As a longtime musician who has written, recorded and produced his own music, Congressman Crowley is well known for his dedication to the arts and advocacy for equal pay for artists, including his role as lead Democratic sponsor of the Allocations For Music Producers (AMP) Act, which was signed into law in 2019. He also co-sponsored the Fair Pay Fair Play Act of 2015 and was a member of the Recording Arts and Sciences Congressional Caucus where he focused on issues such as music royalties, performance rights, and more.

In his role as Chairman of musicFIRST, Crowley is leading the coalition’s Music Fairness campaign, with the support of international law firm Squire Patton Boggs and DC-based public affairs agency Bully Pulpit Interactive.

Currently, artists and creators are compensated when their songs are played on streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora, but don’t receive a penny when they are played by FM/AM radio stations — more than 2,000 of which are owned by just six large mass media companies.

By a 2-1 margin, Americans believe it’s unfair that artists are not paid when their music is played on traditional radio, according to a recent national survey.

“Artists like me who have dedicated our entire lives to our music just want to be paid fairly for our work,” said Joe McBride, a longtime jazz pianist and vocalist from Dallas who has released ten contemporary jazz albums. “I’m glad musicFIRST is fighting on our behalf, and I couldn’t be more excited to have a lifelong fighter like Congressman Crowley leading the charge.”

“There is no possible justification for any industry to be required, by law, to supply its primary product for free so that another industry can make a profit from it,” said Richard James Burgess, President and CEO of the American Association of Independent Music. “As a longstanding member of musicFIRST, we are excited to have Congressman Crowley leading the charge. We look forward to ending this injustice.”

“Congressman Crowley is a longtime advocate for music creators, a fact recognized as a past honoree of our annual GRAMMYs on the Hill® Awards,” said Daryl P. Friedman, Chief Advocacy Officer at the Recording Academy®. “His tireless support for artists and understanding of crucial parity issues uniquely position him in this ongoing fight for fairness. We look forward to working together once again on behalf of music creators across the country.”

“Congressman Crowley is a tremendous asset and brings powerful leadership to our crucial fight for Music Fairness and artists’ rights,” said Gabrielle Carteris, President of SAG-AFTRA. “His work on the Fair Play Fair Pay Act is just one example of his informed and expert leadership on music issues and we know that drive and focus will continue in his role as Chairman for musicFIRST. We welcome him to his new role and to the fight to ensure that all recording artists including SAG-AFTRA members are heard, respected and treated with dignity and equity.”

As Congressman Crowley and musicFIRST fight for fair pay for artists across the country, they are taking their case to Capitol Hill. Large media companies and their representatives at the National Association of Broadcasters are currently attempting to mislead Members of Congress into signing onto a seemingly innocuous resolution that claims to be about “local radio” but is actually a guise to block fair pay for artists. In response, musicFIRST recently released an annotated version of a “Dear Colleague” letter on the issue that sets the record straight, which can be viewed here.

Members of the musicFIRST coalition include the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), the American Federation of Musicians, The Recording Academy®, The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), SAG-AFTRA and SoundExchange, among others.

For more information, please visit the musicFIRST website at www.musicfirstcoalition.org or follow the coalition on Twitter at @musicFIRST.

About musicFIRST
musicFIRST works to ensure music creators get fair pay for their work on all platforms and wherever and however it is played. We rally the people and organizations who make and love music to end the broken status quo that allows AM/FM to use any song ever recorded without paying its performers a dime. And to stand up for fair pay on digital radio — and whatever comes next.

About Squire Patton Boggs
Squire Patton Boggs is recognized as one of the world’s strongest integrated legal practices, providing insight at the point where law, business and government meet. With more than 1,500 lawyers across 45 offices in 20 countries, the firm delivers commercially focused legal services and invaluable connections on the ground to a diverse mix of clients across North America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Latin America.

About Bully Pulpit Interactive
Bully Pulpit Interactive (BPI) is a modern communications agency that solves the biggest challenges for great organizations. Born in politics and founded by leaders of the Obama campaign, we apply our unique expertise from these experiences to create sophisticated and customized strategies for brands, causes and candidates. We combine proprietary technology and deeper insights to build believers with the speed and agility that today’s market requires. This month, BPI was honored as Public Affairs Agency of the Year at the prestigious SABRE Awards.

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