Performance royalty debate gets loud, strikes local chord

Although radio singles might perk a few ears, they don’t necessarily make a performer’s pocket any heavier.

But over the last 50 years, there has been a push by artists and record labels to change this. Now, as the issue heads to the House and Senate floors, the debate surrounding it is causing increased radio chatter both on and off the air.

For as long as the partnership between artists and radio has existed, the arrangement has been one of “free play for free publicity.”

The songwriter and publisher receive royalty payments, but the performers themselves, as well as the labels, do not. Many artists have long been uncomfortable with this, and renewed interest in the debate has been sparked by a coalition of artists, labels and interest groups called MusicFIRST. Their aim is to change the laws through the Performance Rights Act.

The Judiciary Committees of both chambers have passed the Performance Rights Act, which would require broadcasters to pay the additional royalties.

“It would ensure that artists and musicians would be compensated for music that is played on the radio, just as they are compensated when their music is played on internet radio, satellite radio, cable television music channels, movies and TV shows,” said Marty Machowsky, a spokesman for MusicFIRST. “This is really a spotlight on this loophole that allows terrestrial radio to get away without paying anything.”

Some radio broadcasters, however, say the act’s passing could be the chiming of the death toll for small stations. An intense ad campaign encouraging public support against the bills has been launched by the National Association of Broadcasters. Re-christening the act as the “performance tax,” the NAB claims that the bills could bankrupt small stations.

Read the rest of this story at the Indiana Daily Student.