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Harry Belafonte, Common, The Roots, Jack White, and Many More Artists Call On Congress To Pass The American Music Fairness Act

06 December 2022

40+ additional prominent music artists and creators have added their voices to a joint letter to lawmakers

Washington, DC, December 6, 2022 — musicFIRST – the voice for fairness and equity for music creators – applauds the growing group of musicians who are calling for fair compensation for music creators. An additional 41 artists, creators and activists have now added their signatures to a recent joint letter urging Members of Congress to pass the American Music Fairness Act (AMFA) — a bipartisan piece of legislation that would finally grant creators performance royalties for the use of their music on AM/FM radio — bringing the total number of signatories to over 100.

A copy of the letter can be found here.

The addition of the letter’s new signatories comes ahead of the House Judiciary Committee’s scheduled markup of the AMFA this Wednesday. The latest additions include several renowned artist-activists and lifelong advocates of fair pay for music creators, including: Harry Belafonte, Common, The Roots, Dionne Warwick, Jack White, Elvis Costello, David Byrne, Four Tops, Temptations, Estate of Mary Wilson (of The Supremes, Randy Travis, Roseanne Cash, Becky G, Julia Michaels, Nile Rodgers, They Might Be Giants, OK Go, Aimee Mann, Matthew Montfort, Maggie Vail, Willie Nile, David Pack, Lizz Wright, The Stone Foxes, The RTs, Satellite Mode, Mark Charles, Blake Morgan, Aleks Syntek, Los Rabanes, El Gran Silencio, Inspector, Jenny & The Mexicats, Kemo The Blaxican, Samuray, Jimi Haha of Jimmie’s Chicken Shack, Mac McCaughan (of Superchunk), Suzanne Vega, The Whites, Ricky Skaggs, and Merck Mercuriadis.

The original letter — which was signed by more than 60 prominent luminaries of the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, including Kevin Bacon, Cyndi Lauper, Gloria Estefan, HANSON, Peter Frampton, Jackson Browne, and more — was sent to Members of Congress on November 1st to mark the kick-off of Music Fairness Awareness Month, an annual effort by music creators throughout the month of November to bring attention to a decades-long injustice that denies artists fair pay for their work. While the awareness month has ended, artists’ support for the legislation only continues to grow.

“For over 80 years, artists have been fighting for basic fair pay from Big Radio. This fight is far from new,” said Congressman Joe Crowley, Chairman of the musicFIRST Coalition. “Many of the artists who have added their names to this joint letter know this all too well, because they have been in this fight for decades now. We’re grateful to them for their tenacity and their commitment to this important cause, and we’re confident that the artist-driven momentum behind the American Music Fairness Act will finally bring about historic progress this year. I feel proud to stand with these incredible creators in their fight to secure the respect and fairness that all artists so richly deserve.”

Of particular note among the new signatories is Harry Belafonte, the legendary singer and activist that has been at the forefront of countless fights for social justice for more than 60 years, dating back to his leading role in the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

“Harry Belafonte is a legend in every sense of the word — not just for his incredible music, but for everything he has done to help expand fairness, justice and equality for so many people in this country and around the world,” said Crowley. “If anyone knows what it means to call out injustice and stand up for what’s right and fair, it is Harry — and I’m proud to be standing alongside him and so many other amazing artists in this fight.”

Artists are not alone in their call for music fairness. According to a recent national poll of 1,087 U.S. adults commissioned by musicFIRST, roughly 6 in 10 Americans (59%) say they would support Congress passing a new law that would require broadcasters to pay artists when their music is played on AM/FM radio — such as the AMFA. Only 15% would not support such a law.

The American Music Fairness Act was introduced in the House by Reps. Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Darrell Issa (R-CA) in June 2021, and received companion legislation in the Senate last month from Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Alex Padilla (D-CA). The identical pieces of legislation would require AM/FM radio stations whose gross annual revenue is greater than $1.5 million — or stations owned by parent companies whose annual revenue tops $10 million — to pay the artists whose songs they play to fill their airwaves. Notably, AMFA includes broad exemptions and low annual flat fees for smaller local stations and public, college, and noncommercial broadcasters, and protects songwriters by ensuring payments to artists do not come out of their share of royalties.

A fact sheet about the bill’s provisions is available to download here.

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

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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.

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