Pandora and Sirius have decided to stop paying performance royalties to artists, producers and background performers who recorded before 1972–in other words, the creators (and their heirs) of the greatest music that influenced us all. Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Aretha Franklin, Willie Nelson, Buddy Holly, Jack Teagarden, Johnny Winter and everyone in 20 Feet from Stardom. Just to name a few. The Pandora loophole hurts American artists the worst (because Pandora’s pals at the NAB keep US artists from being paid overseas).
The Pandora loophole is due to a gotcha in the US copyright law–the Pandora loophole–that supposedly does not extend the SoundExchange royalty to recordings made before 1972 because the U.S. did not adopt federal copyright protection for sound recordings until 1972. The only problem with Pandora’s position is that there are lots of Members of Congress still in office who passed the 1995 and 1998 laws that created the SoundExchange royalty–and there is no Member of Congress who thought that they were creating a loophole so that Pandora and Sirius could stiff these legacy artists and their heirs.
This means that if you record a cover of Voodoo Child today, you will get paid by Pandora as a performer but Jimi Hendrix will not.
I know what you’re thinking–who in their right mind would want to stiff old guys and dead cats?
There’s a one-word answer to that question.
The good news is that there’s something you can do about it. If you respect all music, call your U.S. Senator and Member of Congress and ask them to support the RESPECT Act (bill number HR 4772) sponsored by Reps. George Holding and John Conyers. With your help, we can all close the Pandora loophole and play fair with the people who taught us how to swing and showed us how to rock.
Please take a minute to look up your Member of Congress in House of Representatives. There are 435 Members of Congress, and you have one of them. If you don’t know already who that is, go to this link and look in the upper right hand corner of the webpage under “Find Your Representative”.
So you get one Representative and your state gets two Senators (regardless of population). The website for the U.S. Senate is www.senate.gov. There is a list of them at this link. Locate yours, and it’s the same drill.
Two phone calls and two emails.
Ask them to stand with you and #respectallmusic.
In the words of Sam & Dave, “And I Thank You.”