U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) introduced the bipartisan American Music Fairness Act to ensure artists and music creators receive fair compensation for the use of their songs on AM/FM radio. This legislation will bring corporate radio broadcasters in line with all other music streaming platforms, which already pay artists for their music. Identical legislation (H.R. 4130) has already been introduced and received a hearing in the House, setting Congress up for action this fall.
“From Beale Street to Music Row to the hills of East Tennessee, the Volunteer State’s songwriters have undeniably made their mark," said Senator Blackburn. "However, while broadcasters demand compensation for the content they create and distribute, they don’t apply this view to the songwriters, artists, and musicians whose music they play on the radio without paying royalties. Tennessee’s creators deserve to be compensated for their work. This legislation will ensure that they receive fair payment and can keep the great hits coming."
“For too long, our laws have unfairly denied artists the right to receive fair compensation for their hard work and talent on AM/FM broadcasts,” said Senator Padilla. “California’s artists have played a pivotal role in enriching and diversifying our country’s music scene. That is why passing the American Music Fairness Act is so important. It’s time we treat our musical artists with the dignity and respect they deserve for the music they produce and we enjoy every day.”
“The American Music Fairness Act is gaining momentum on Capitol Hill, and we look forward to progress in the months ahead," said Congressman Joe Crowley, chairman of the musicFIRST Coalition. "Big Radio has used an antiquated loophole to deny payments to artists for decades, but with the help of Senator Blackburn, Senator Padilla and other allies in Congress, this is the year we will finally end this injustice. Senators Blackburn and Padilla have the appreciation and respect of the music industry for leading the fight on behalf of the thousands of American artists and creators who deserve to be paid fairly when their work is played on AM/FM radio.”
“The American Music Fairness Act is a vital step towards bringing the U.S. music industry into the 21st Century,” said Michael Huppe, president and CEO of SoundExchange. “It ends the injustice of denying music creators payment for their work, levels the playing field between traditional broadcasts and streaming platforms, and caps the royalties that small and community AM/FM radio stations pay at just $500 a year. This is a common-sense – and long overdue -- blueprint for a healthier and fairer music industry.”
“Music creators have been fighting this battle for decades, so the introduction of the American Music Fairness Act in the Senate is an important step forward in the fight to ensure artists are paid when their music is played on broadcast radio,” said Harvey Mason Lr., CEO of the Recording Academy. “It’s time for artists to be compensated for their creative work that keeps AM/FM radio thriving. We’re thankful to our many Academy members for their continued advocacy, and to Senators Padilla and Blackburn for hearing our collective voice and pushing this legislation forward. We’re hopeful that we’re nearing the finish line to end this inequity that has disadvantaged music people for far too long.”
“The introduction of the AMFA bill in the Senate is an important step forward for music artists' rights,” said Fran Drescher, president of SAG-AFTRA. “I am grateful to Senator Padilla and Senator Blackburn and implore every Congressional member to support AMFA and close up the loophole that allows businesses to exploit workers without pay. Broadcast companies profit from advertising sales because of the creative content musicians and singers record. It stands to reason that the performers who create the content deserve to be compensated just as songwriters are now. The reason it’s called the American Music Fairness Act is because the current situation is wholly unfair and it’s up to Congress to make it fair now.”
"By introducing the American Music Fairness Act today, Senators Padilla and Blackburn are standing on the side of musicians and small independent record labels who for too long have seen enormous national radio conglomerates make billions of dollars without paying a cent for the sound recordings that draw in their listeners,” said Dr. Richard James Burgess, president and CEO of the American Association of Independent Music. “That’s just not fair, and the status quo should be an insult to all content creators, including broadcasters themselves. The bill has the most generous exception ever for truly small community broadcasters, so the time is now to enact it into law.”
“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," said Ray Hari, international president of the American Federation of Musicians. "While these big corporate broadcast companies gobble up billions upon billions in advertising dollars, the session and background musicians, whose work make 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. We commend Senator Blackburn, Senator Padilla and our other allies in Congress for championing this cause.”
“The American Music Fairness Act takes a smart, calibrated approach towards solving a decades old problem in the radio industry,” said Mitch Glazier, chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America. “It will finally ensure that recording artists and copyright owners are paid fairly for their work regardless of the technology used to broadcast it while carefully protecting small and noncommercial stations to preserve truly local radio our communities depend upon.”
Currently, the United States is the only democratic country in the world in which artists are not compensated for the use of their music on AM/FM radio. By requiring broadcast radio corporations to pay performance royalties to creators for AM/FM radio plays, the American Music Fairness Act would close an antiquated loophole that has allowed corporate broadcasters to forgo compensating artists for the use of their music for decades.
In recognition of the important role of locally owned radio stations in communities across the U.S., the American Music Fairness Act also includes strong protections for small, college, and non-commercial stations.
The Blackburn-Padilla bill is identical to companion legislation (H.R. 4130) introduced in 2021 in the House of Representatives, which received a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee in February and is currently working its way through the committee process.
This legislation will positively impact artists and the music industry at large by:
Requiring terrestrial radio broadcasters to pay royalties to American music creators when they play their songs.
Protecting small and local stations who qualify for exemptions — specifically those that fall under $1.5 million in annual revenue and whose parent companies fall under less than $10 million in annual revenue overall — by allowing them to play unlimited music for less than $500 annually.
Creating a fair global market that ensures foreign countries pay U.S. artists for the use of their songs overseas.
The American Music Fairness Act is endorsed by: the AFL-CIO, the American Association of Independent Music, the American Federation of Musicians, the Recording Academy, the Recording Industry Association of America, SAG-AFTRA and SoundExchange.
Full text of the bill is available here.