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Artists Move One Step Closer To Securing Fair Pay With Early Reintroduction of the American Music Fairness Act

02 February 2023

musicFIRST Applauds the Bicameral, Bipartisan Legislation Introduced by Sens. Padilla and Blackburn and Reps. Issa and Nadler

Washington, DC, February 2, 2023musicFIRST – the voice for fairness and equity for music creators – applauded today’s bicameral re-introduction of the American Music Fairness Act (AMFA). The two identical bills were introduced in bipartisan fashion by Representatives Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Jerry Nadler (D-NY) in the House of Representatives and Senators Alex Padilla (D-CA) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) in the Senate. 

Additionally, Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Representatives Tom McClintock (R-CA) and Ted Lieu (D-CA) have also added their names as original cosponsors in the Senate and House, respectively.

The legislation — which made historic strides last year by achieving passage in the House Judiciary Committee, representing the most progress on this issue since 2009 — offers a balanced solution that would require large broadcast corporations to finally pay performance royalties to artists and music creators for AM/FM radio airplay, while also protecting small radio stations by allowing them to play all the music they need to thrive for an affordable, predictable cost of less than $2 per day. 

“It’s clear that the movement for music fairness continues to gain momentum, bringing us closer than ever before to ending Big Radio’s ability to deny artists the fair pay they deserve. This week’s House and Senate introductions of the American Music Fairness Act is evidence of that,” said Congressman Joe Crowley, Chairman of musicFIRST. “We thank Senators Padilla and Blackburn and Representatives Issa and Nadler for their leadership in the effort to secure economic justice for our nation’s music artists and creators, and look forward to working together to drive continued progress in the coming months.” 

Crowley added: “This important legislation couldn’t be introduced on a more appropriate day. Artists have been living through Groundhog Day for decades now. The years might change, but one thing always seems to stay the same: Big Radio refusing to pay them for their hard work. We believe we can finally break that vicious cycle in 2023. And we’re going to do everything in our power to pass the American Music Fairness Act and ensure that music creators don’t have to live through this injustice for yet another year.”

For decades now, corporate broadcasters have used an antiquated loophole to deny compensation to artists for the use of their songs on the AM/FM radio. As a handful of radio behemoths have continued to grow and consolidate the industry, raking in billions in advertising dollars in the process, the hardworking artists behind the music that makes their business model possible have never received a single cent. 

The American Music Fairness Act will rectify this injustice by requiring that artists and music creators be paid a performance royalty for the use of their songs on AM/FM radio. This common sense approach will bring radio in line with all other music platforms — such as streaming services and digital platforms — that already pay artists for the use of their music. A fact sheet about the bill’s provisions is available to download here. 

Importantly, the AMFA not only provides economic justice for artists, but also recognizes and protects the critical role of the remaining small radio stations in our communities. Under the bill, small and noncommercial operators will be able to play unlimited music for less than $2 per day (a maximum of $500 annually) — providing these essential community resources with the affordability and certainty they need to thrive.  

The legislation is widely supported by artists, community broadcasters and their allies, worker advocates and labor unions, as well as the American public. According to a November 2022 poll commissioned by musicFIRST, roughly 6 in 10 voters (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.

Several members of the musicFIRST Coalition also offered their support for the reintroduced legislation:

“Music creators have been forced to give away their work for far too long. It is time for Congress to demonstrate that they stand behind the hard-working Americans that provide the music we all love by finally passing the American Music Fairness Act. This bill has the broad support of artists, labels, small broadcasters, unions, and others because it strikes a fair balance by respecting creators for their work and protecting truly local broadcasters. No more excuses, no more waiting in line for their turn. Music creators demand the economic justice AMFA provides.” – Michael Huppe, President and CEO of SoundExchange

“As we prepare to focus our attention on celebrating music this weekend at the GRAMMY Awards, the Recording Academy also renews its commitment to ensuring music creators are always compensated fairly for their work. We applaud Reps. Issa, Nadler, McClintock, and Lieu and Senators Padilla, Blackburn, Feinstein, and Tillis for reintroducing the American Music Fairness Act and look forward to working with them to build on the historic progress we made last year on this important legislation.” – Harvey Mason jr., CEO of the Recording Academy

“I want to thank Congressman Jerry Nadler, Congressman Darrell Issa, Senator Alex Padilla and Senator Marsha Blackburn for their leadership on this crucial legislation. When you consider the billions of dollars the big radio corporations generate in revenue and profits, it’s shocking that recording artists, vocalists and musicians don’t receive a penny when their work is played on AM/FM radio. Since when do workers in America get exploited without pay? This is an unfair and egregious loophole especially since both streaming and digital services pay for the use of artists’ work. AM/FM radio has had a free ride for decades and it’s time to put a stop to it! I urge Congress to fix this outdated practice by passing the American Music Fairness Act.” – Fran Drescher, President of SAG-AFTRA

“The American Music Fairness Act is practical compromise legislation that has already passed the House Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support last Congress. It takes a smart, calibrated approach towards solving a decades old problem in the radio industry. When enacted into law, AMFA will ensure recording artists and copyright owners are paid fairly for recorded music regardless of the technology used to broadcast it while carefully protecting small and noncommercial stations to preserve truly local radio our communities depend upon.” – Mitch Glazier, Chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America

“For far too long, our broken and unfair system has let AM/FM radio stations — many of which are owned by just a few massive media corporations — get away with refusing to pay artists when they play their music. While these big corporate broadcast companies gobble up billions upon billions in advertising dollars, the session and background musicians, whose work makes all of it possible, receive no compensation whatsoever for their creations. It’s time to right this wrong, and the American Music Fairness Act aims to do just that. It’s vital that Congress protects the livelihoods of those who create the music we know and love.” – Ray Hair, International President of the American Federation of Musicians

“We are grateful that our champions are making it crystal clear that the fight for fairness continues in this new Congress. By reintroducing the American Music Fairness Act, Senators Blackburn and Padilla, along with Representatives Issa and Nadler, as defenders of property rights and supporters of artistic expression, have put the mega broadcasting conglomerates on notice that it is time to erase their stain on America’s history.” — Dr. Richard James Burgess, President and CEO of the American Association of Independent Music

Members of the musicFIRST coalition include the American Federation of Musicians, American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), 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 and 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.

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