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musicFIRST Launches “12 Days of Artists Getting Scrooged” Holiday Campaign

13 December 2023

iHeartRadio’s ‘Holiday Station Flip’ Means Millions for Broadcasters, Coal for Performers

Washington, DC, December 13, 2023musicFIRST — the voice for fairness and equity for music creators — announced the launch of the “12 Days of Artists Getting Scrooged” holiday campaign on Wednesday. The new effort, which will play out across the coalition’s social media channels between now and Christmas Eve, will highlight 12 timeless holidays songs that have been made popular by a variety of artists who haven’t received a dime from the Big Radio broadcasters who profit off their work all season long.

Every year, iHeartRadio converts approximately 85 of its stations to exclusively play holiday music beginning in mid-November. With holiday music filling these airwaves 24/7, roughly a million songs will be played on iHeart stations throughout the season — and just like the other 11 months of the year, the corporate behemoth won’t pay the artists behind that music for the use of their sound recordings.

“There’s nothing I love more than a good Christmas story, but the one about ‘The Broadcaster Who Stole Christmas’ is a yuletide yarn that has an unjust ending for music artists,” said Senator Mark Pryor, Co-Chairman of the musicFIRST Coalition. “By catering to Americans’ love of holiday tunes, iHeart gets more listeners and advertising revenue in their already bulging stocking — but the performers who made it all possible get nothing but coal. Even Scrooge himself couldn’t have conceived of such an over-the-top display of miserly greed in his wildest dreams.”

This year has brought a new example that illustrates how Big Radio’s selfishness impacts the artists who make our favorite holiday songs: On December 4, Brenda Lee’s beloved seasonal classic “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” topped the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time ever, 65 years after its release. But despite the track spending decades in regular radio rotation on stations owned by iHeart and other big corporations, Ms. Lee has never been paid a single penny by the broadcasters who profit off her iconic vocal performance, while the songwriter Johnny Marks has (rightfully) received a royalty for every spin.

This is not a new problem. As far back as 1988, Frank Sinatra — whose rendition of ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ has attracted radio listeners for more than 60 years — called out the injustice of performers not being compensated by broadcasters for the use of their sound recordings. 

Thankfully, the bipartisan American Music Fairness Act is poised to finish the fight Sinatra started by requiring AM/FM radio to do the right thing and compensate artists for their work, while also protecting truly local radio stations by capping their fees to $10-$500 a year for unlimited music. 

“Big Radio’s heart has been three sizes too small for decades. It’s long past time for iHeart and their fellow broadcasters to stop grinchily hoarding all that silver and gold and share some with the artists whose songs make the holidays merry and bright for their listeners,” said Pryor. “As the self-proclaimed ‘No. 1 holiday music listening destination,’ iHeart can certainly afford to do what every other music platform and democratic nation already does: pay a performance royalty to the artists who make their entire business model possible. After all, the holidays are a season of giving, not greedily lining your own pockets.” 

For more information on iHeart’s holiday greed, follow musicFIRST’s “12 Days Of Artists Getting Scrooged” series on Twitter.

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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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