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R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Lawmakers Deserve Credit For Supporting Local Radio and the Movement to Get Artists Paid When Their Music is Played on AM/FM Radio

24 January 2022

Washington, DC, January 24, 2022 — In a time when the pandemic has harmed both the artists who make the music Americans love, and the local independently owned radio stations that serve our communities, lawmakers are demonstrating their support for these causes by adding their names to both a symbolic resolution called the Local Radio Freedom Act and the bipartisan American Music Fairness Act legislation poised to become law this year.

While the symbolic resolution and actual legislation to deliver music fairness have often been viewed as competing, Reps. Dwight Evans (D-PA), Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Bobby Rush (D-IL) and Albio Sires (D-NJ) have added their names as cosponsors to both, demonstrating that lawmakers can seek to end the decades-old injustice of denying artists payment for their work while also supporting local radio.

“We’re encouraged by the growing support for the American Music Fairness Act in Congress,” said Congressman Joe Crowley, Chairman of musicFIRST. “The big broadcasters will try to say that you can’t stand for music fairness and support local radio, but my former colleagues have shown that that’s simply not true. By cosponsoring both, they’re sending a strong message: You can fight for artists who make the soundtrack to our lives while also protecting the truly local radio stations we all know and love. They’re not mutually exclusive. The American Music Fairness Act does both, and so can we.”

While broadcasters tout the so-called Local Radio Freedom Act, it can’t do anything for local radio operators because it cannot become a law. It’s a non-binding resolution, and in the 15 years since it was first introduced, it has never been fully enacted. 

With growing bipartisan support, including lead sponsors Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Darrell Issa (R-CA), and with the backing of House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the American Music Fairness Act has a path forward in the House and we expect the bill’s considerable momentum will only continue to build in the days ahead. When this bill becomes law, it will look out for truly local radio by limiting the amount stations have to pay — from only $500 a year for small commercial stations down to just $10 a year for the smallest stations to play as much music as they want.

“It’s time to reject the cynical ploys iHeart uses to avoid having to dip into its coffers and pay artists any of the billions of advertising dollars it generates from the music it plays and pass actual legislation that respects artists and protects local radio,” said Crowley. “With the landmark American Music Fairness Act, we can finally do both.”

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 national survey. However, the plight of music creators has been largely invisible — a full 60% of Americans report they were not aware that music creators were not paid when their music is played on AM/FM stations — making it easier for the corporations that control radio stations to get away with this injustice.

For more information on musicFIRST and its fight for music fairness, head to musicfirstcoalition.org

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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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