Congressman Jerry Nadler and Marsha Blackburn, John Conyers and Ted Deutch will introduce legislation on Monday that responds to all of you who supported artist pay for radio play. The thousands and thousands of you who signed the #irespectmusic petition, the hundreds of you who attended #irespectmusic events, the hundreds of you who responded to the Copyright Office’s request for comments on the Music Licensing Study and the “NABtweets” campaign on Grammy night, and who supported the Turtles fight against Pandora and SiriusXM. All the bands who have hosted #irespectmusic shows around the country, all the fans who wore the “#irespectmusic AND I VOTE!” button at election time.
Janita, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Blake Morgan and Tommy Merrill
Tommy Merrill, Rep. Jerry Nadler, Blake Morgan and Janita
Janita, Rep. Ted Deutch, Blake Morgan and Tommy Merrill
Some of you joined this movement recently, some of you were around for the last effort at a performance rights act, some of you have been in it since we all started fighting Pandora’s end run around fair treatment for artists with the Internet Radio Fairness Act in 2012. All of you know in your hearts that we all have to stand up to the multinational mass media corporations like Clear Channel and Google, the fast buck artists like Pandora and Spotify, and the underhanded data merchants like YouTube.
But the one thing that we could do right now to put fair compensation directly into the pockets of artists is to achieve the idea that #irespectmusic has been fighting for–pass the Fair Play Fair Pay Act.
Some of you were there last October at New York’s Bitter End at the historic first #irespectmusicandIVOTE! event and heard Congressman Nadler’s stirring speech foreshadowing the Fair Play Fair Pay Act 2015.
You were there to let the government know that you expect fair treatment for artists and songwriters. You were there when Zoë Keating stood up to YouTube, when Jann Arden stood up against Big Radio, when Blake Morgan stood up against Spotify, when David Lowery rewrote the narrative that Big Tech imposes on the world and when Gloria Steinem said artist rights are human rights.
We have to thank Reps. Jerry Nadler, Marsha Blackburn, John Conyers and Ted Deutch who have been dedicated to this issue for years, and of course to SoundExchange who has also carried the flag for all of us to help get this bill introduced.
We all know that getting a performance royalty on terrestrial radio is a very old story–90 years old. The music industry establishment has been fighting the broadcasting establishment over this issue for a very long time. And face it–the broadcasters have been winning this fight for a very long time.
Not only are we fighting the broadcasters this time, we are also fighting Pandora, Google, Apple, the Consumer Electronics Association–everyone who wants to deny artists fair pay for radio play. These companies have many tentacles into our music industry establishment and many pressure points they can bring to bear.
So why should we believe that this time it will be different than it has been for the last 90 years? The biggest reason is that this time it’s not just the establishment–this time it includes you. You said here am I, send me. It includes you every time you get a friend to sign a petition, every time you use the #irespectmusic hashtag. Every time you pick up the phone and ask your representative what they are doing for artist rights to save our culture. Every time you support a local artist at an #irespectmusic show.
Because here’s the reality–if past is prologue, the historical record shows conclusively that the establishment can’t get it done alone. We all have to pull together and as long as all artists are treated fairly, that is exactly what we should do.
But today, my friends, is your day. Your fearless rejection of technodeterminism and fast buckery and your vocal respect for culture and creativity has helped these representatives be effective.
Your unequivocal and unflagging support for the human rights of artists is what makes this day possible. It’s why I write this blog, it’s why we fight. We all have this in common.
True, we have a long way to go to make this bill a reality. But I’m looking at the Fair Play Fair Pay Act and it looks pretty damn real to me.
And for today, that’s good enough.
Tonight lift a glass to Satchmo, Count, Duke and Ella, Buddy Rich, Billie Holiday, Joe Cocker, Charlie Parker, Ian McLagan, John Coltrane and all the others who didn’t make it this far. And to all those who did like our inspiration Aretha Franklin, and for all those yet to arrive.
And give yourselves a hand.
Tomorrow we fight, but tonight we celebrate. Because you believed.
Because we all did.