Posts Tagged ‘Fair Play Fair Pay’

@mikehuppe: Broadcast Radio Makes an Ironic Plea for Fairness — Artist Rights Watch

August 8, 2018 Comments off

SoundExchange’s CEO says it’s time radio starts paying all music creators fairly for their work.

On Monday, a group of radio broadcasters penned a letter in support of the National Association of Broadcasters’ (NAB) push for deregulation of the $14 billion radio industry. Their letter was based on the NAB’s petition to the FCC this past June, in which the NAB sought to allow expanded broadcaster ownership of radio stations (i.e., increased consolidation) throughout the country. The NAB’s justification: broadcasters must adjust their business model to the realities of the new streaming world.

As a representative of the many creative parties who help craft music, we are frequently on the opposite side of issues from the NAB. And while I can’t comment on NAB’s specific requests, I was delighted to find so much common ground in their FCC filing in June….

I agree with the NAB that the law should “finally adopt rules reflecting competitive reality in today’s audio marketplace” and should “level the playing field” for all entities in the music economy.

If radio truly wants to modernize, it can start by taking a giant leap into the 21st century and paying all music creators fairly for their work. Stop treating artists like 17th century indentured servants, just so radio can reap bigger profits. If radio wants to have rules that reflect the music industry of today, then that should apply across the board.

We should resolve this gaping unfairness to artists before we begin talking about allowing radio to consolidate even further.


Read the post on Billboard


Help @RepJerryNadler Beat the Cartels because #irespectmusic

September 26, 2017 Comments off

Emmanuel Legrand posted a very informative piece in his newsletter about a speech by Rep. Jerry Nadler at the so-called “Music Biz Association” Music Biz Entertainment & Technology Law Conference Series in New York.

(Some of you may remember the “Music Biz Association” as NARM which is what it was called before it was taken over by representatives from the leading royalty deadbeats of our day: Facebook, Amazon, Spotify, YouTube and Pandora. In fact, the chair of the “Music Biz Association” is from Facebook, the industry leader in screwing artists out of royalties and their name and likeness rights, not to mention fake news.  YouTube parent Google and Pandora are both members of the MIC Coalition cartel that is an effort by Corporate America dedicated to screwing the world’s songwriters and artists through massive lobbying power.  Also known as The Anti-Music Biz Association.  Amazon and Spotify are also represented through their trade association the Digital Media Association which has opposed everything anyone has tried to do to better the lives of creators.)

Mr. Legrand tells us that Rep. Nadler noted the long list of critical creative industries legislation languishing in the Congress:  These include the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act (HR 1695) which is currently languishing in the Senate after having passed the House with a rip-roaring 378-48 after being opposed by proxies of Music Biz board members.  Nadler’s own Fair Play Fair Pay Act of 2017 (HR 1836) would close the terrestrial performance right loophole for sound recordings; [the CLASSICS Act (HR 3301) to get artists paid statutory performance royalties for pre-1972 recordings that The Turtles have had to sue over at great expense;] “…the Songwriters’ Equity Act, that would simplify the way music is licensed by performance rights organisations; [the Allocation for Producers (AMP Act HR 881); and] the PROMOTE Act of 2017 (HR 1914), which would allow performing artists to opt out of having their music played on the radio if the performing artist is not being paid an agreed-upon performance royalty.”

Let’s be clear about one thing–the real tragedy that would make us all look very stupid would be if after getting the Register of Copyrights bill passed overwhelmingly in the House–after dirty dealing by Representative from Google–the bill simply dies in the Senate because no one will bring it up for a vote or because Senator Wyden (D-Google Data Center) has a hold on it.  The one bill that actually got a vote and was passed by the Judiciary Committee and by the House–fails in the Senate?  

That result would no doubt be thrilling to the Music Biz Association board members from YouTube, Facebook, Amazon and Spotify if for no other reason that the snarky Librarian of Congress is very likely itching to appoint her own Register and give the gesture to the Congress and their little dog, too.  (This would be the Libraian of Congress who is permitting (and I think encouraging) mass NOIs to screw songwriters for the benefit of Amazon, Pandora, Spotify and Google.)

If that Register appointment bill doesn’t get a vote pretty soon, she just might do it, particularly if she got top cover from the MIC Coalition and the Internet Association (assuming the IA can take time away from their important work of protecting and saving the Internet).

And this is not to mention the latest atrocity from the MIC Coalition, the radioactive “Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act” (HR 3350).  That bill destroys statutory damages and attorneys fees awards in copyright infringement cases against special classes of members of the MIC Coalition cartel that appears to be attempting to fix songwriter and artist royalties–at zero by the look of it.  (And those Music Biz Association meetings should recite the antitrust prayer with special fervor given all of the interlocking boards involved and the dominant posistions of Facebook, Google, Spotify, Pandora and of course Amazon.  Someone might come looking.)  For a good summary of what’s wrong with HR 3350 (or as we call it, The Shiv Act) read this open letter by the Content Creators Coalition signed by artist members Melvin Gibbs, John McCrea, Tommy Manzi, Rosanne Cash, Tift Merritt and Matthew Montfort.

Since we’re not mentioning HR 3350, let’s also not mention Music Biz Association board members Amazon, Spotify, Pandora and Google’s millions upon millions of “address unknown” NOIs served on the Copyright Office pursuant to impenetrable filings that screw songwriters to the wall in no uncertain terms.  But wait…Spotify says there’s no such thing as a mechanical royalty….I’m so confused.

Mr. Legrand reports that Rep. Nadler is disheartened by the lack of effort behind these bills:

Nadler said that so far none of these bills have gathered any traction, aside from the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act, which was voted 27-1 by the Committee before the summer, to be then sent to the Senate where it is stalling.

Nadler added that Goodlatte will stay in his position for less than two more years so something has to happen this year, if anything.

“Time is the enemy,” said Nadler. “Someone has to be pushing and a lot of this stuff is not going through the Judiciary.” However, Nadler wondered whether Goodlatte would go for a comprehensive Copyright Bill that would become his legacy or opt for a selective number of individual bills.

Nadler, as one of the co-sponsors of the bill, would like to see [Fair Play Fair Pay] go through because, as he said, the USA is the only country alongside Iran and North Korea not to grant performance rights on sound recordings for music played on terrestrial radio. To explain he situation owners of sound recordings are facing at the moment, Nadler used the following image: “In a car you can hit three buttons. If you hit FM, music performers do not get royalties. If you then hit satellite radio, performers get a royalty, and if you then hit streaming, performers get a different royalty. It does not make sense.”

Rep. Nadler probably thought he was speaking to an organization that supported his efforts, and indeed in fairness many of the Music Biz Association members do.

However, at least four of the members of both the organization and its board of directors work for companies that have been actively trying to crush songwriters and artists for many, many years.  Pandora, for example, lead the charge against the retirees and the deceased on opposing paying Pandora’s fair share on pre-1972 royalties for sound recordings.  $300 million or so later, it is up to the Congress to fix this loophole.

It’s imporant to note that it takes two to tango–one reason this long list of bills hasn’t moved is because of efforts to stop each of them by companies on the Music Biz Association’s board or the lobbying groups these companies fund to avoid any breadcrumbs leading back to their house.  The MIC Coalition, for example, includes the National Association of Broadcasters who have used their lobbying power to crush artists for decades.

MIC Coaltion 8-15

And it’s not that these companies just oppose legislation to treat creators fairly, it’s that they have in large part formed the MIC Coalition cartel for that exact purpose.  These companies spend millions of dollars lobbying against our interests.  So while we cherish Rep. Nadler’s unflagging support for songwriters and artists (as evidenced by the #IRespectMusic campaign and Blake Morgan’s extraordinary advocacy, for example), it must be said that the Music Biz Association is probably the wrong place to open the kimono because you never know which royalty deadbeat is taking notes in the audience and yukking it up under their breath.

Want to do something about it?  Call your Member of Congress at (202) 224-3121 (or find them on this list for a direct line in the House) AND call both your Senators at (202) 224-3121 (or find them on this list for a direct line in the Senate).  You can also write to your Member by looking them up on the House of Representatives website or to your Senators by looking them up on the Senate website.  (Remember–you have one Member of Congress and two Senators.)

Let’s help our friends like Rep. Nadler defeat the cartels.  Make those phone calls.



@IRMPodcast #2: @RadioCleveKKG Interviews @theblakemorgan about #irespectmusic — Artist Rights Watch

June 25, 2017 Comments off

What’s in the New Fair Play, Fair Pay Act?

March 31, 2017 Comments off

Yesterday Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) (Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet) and  Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), (Chair of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology), along with Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), Judiciary Committee Member Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL), and Congressman Tom Rooney (R-FL) re-introduced the Fair Play Fair Pay Act.  

This is a purposeful mix of bi-partisan support that’s so refreshing in the current climate.  What brought these Members together was a desire to modernize the U.S. rules governing music licensing for both digital and terrestrial radio broadcasts.  Fair Play Fair Pay brings justice to the artists and musicians whose performances are exploited every second of every day on terrestrial radio with no compensation.

Not only would FPFP disrupt the antiquated legacy rules, it would plug the unintended consequences that has spawned seemingly endless litigation and commercial disruption.  The new bill would establish a performance right and royalty for broadcast radio (with suitable protection for noncommercial stations), give guidance to courts that Congress recognizes that  pre-72 recordings should attract a royalty like any other recording, and protect artists and producers for their share of statutory language while making a clear statement that nothing in the bill is intended to reduce payments to songwriters.

Here is a link to the prior version of the bill from the last session of Congress (HR 1733), and here is the summary of the new bill from Congressman Nadler:

The Fair Play Fair Pay Act would:

  • Create a terrestrial performance right so that AM/FM radio competes on equal footing with its Internet and satellite competitors who already pay performance royalties. This would resolve the decades old struggle for performance rights and ensure that—for the first time—music creators would have the right to fair pay when their performances are broadcast on AM/FM radio.

  • Bring true platform parity to radio so that all forms of radio, regardless of the technology they use, pay fair market value for music performances. This levels the playing field and ends the unfair and illogical distortions caused by the different royalty standards that exist today.

  • Ensure terrestrial royalties are affordable capping royalties for stations with less than $1 million in annual revenue at $500 per year (and at $100 a year for non-commercial stations), while protecting religious and incidental uses of music from having to pay any royalties at all.

  • Make a clear statement that pre-1972 recordings have value and those who are profiting from them must pay appropriate royalties for their use, while we closely monitor the litigation developments on this issue.

  • Protect songwriters and publishers by clearly stating that nothing in this bill can be used to lower songwriting royalties.

  • Codify industry practices streamlining the allocation of royalty payments to music producers.

  • Ensure that artists receive their fair share from direct licensing of all performances eligible for the statutory license.


Music Director at WJCU Breaks with National Association of Broadcasters in Letter to Congress Supporting Artist Pay for Radio Play

December 13, 2015 Comments off

[Editor Charlie sez: It’s the end of 2015 and it’s time to look over the good news that came during the year.  For those MTP readers who missed the interview with Karoline Kramer-Gould, the heroic Music Director at tastemaker college radio station WJCU, here’s the reprint from Chris’s blog on Huffington Post.  If you already saw it, it’s well worth a re-read to remind you that we do have friends–a lot of friends–in radio who support treating artists fairly and who have devoted their lives to music every bit as much as artists and musicians have.  What makes Karoline so special is that she was willing to stand up for what she believes in and speak truth to the MIC Coalition.]

The United States is the only democracy in the world that does not pay recording artists for radio airplay. Artists and record labels have been fighting a legislative battle for decades to bring the U.S. in line with the rest of the world, but the powerful broadcasters lobby has always beaten them back.

U.S. Representatives Jerry Nadler and Marsha Blackburn recently introduced legislation titled the “Fair Play Fair Pay Act” as another effort to fix this problem. This time the National Association of Broadcasters (“NAB”) has joined forces with Google, Pandora and many other companies to fight the bill.

I’m pleased to have a chance to interview Karoline Kramer-Gould, the courageous Music Director of Cleveland’s tastemaker college AAA station WJCU about her views on the issue and the NAB’s tactics. Ms. Kramer-Gould has broken ranks with the NAB and co-authored a letter with recording artist Blake Morgan (of the #irespectmusic campaign) to House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte expressing her support for Fair Play Fair Pay. The letter to Chairman Goodlatte is reproduced below after the interview with Ms. Gould.

How long have you worked in radio? Have you always worked at NPR/CPB stations or have you also worked at commercial broadcasters?

I’ve worked in radio for 14 years. I started out as a DJ for a AAA Internet radio station and later I took over as MD/APD. Meanwhile, I was hired by WNCX in Cleveland to start up a 30 minute public affairs show called Greater Cleveland Forum, which ran for almost 4 years on WNCX, WAPS, and WJCU. That led to joining WJCU in 2006 as the Music Director for the AAA format “The Heights”. So, I’ve worked in Internet radio, at non-commercial radio, and in a more limited capacity, at a commercial station as well.

What’s your role at WJCU?

I am the Music Director for The Heights, the AAA format on the station, WJCU. I am, as I always have been, a contract employee (1099 and all).

We’ve always viewed college radio and AAA as outlets for new music and helping artists find an audience in comparison to commercial broadcasters who typically are largely interested in artists who already have an audience. Not to put too fine an edge on that because there are many examples of commercial radio getting behind a new artist who is getting traction, but as a general rule I think it’s fair to say that they rarely get behind a new artist early. Do you agree with that assessment?

I absolutely agree with that assessment. One of the great things about the AAA format and Non-Commercial radio is the relationship we have with artists and musicians. It’s this format and these stations where new, up and coming, or less mainstream artists can get played and get a much needed chance to be heard.

It seems to me that YouTube, Spotify and Pandora cater to what I’d call the “lottery” method rather than the career building method of artist development. I don’t know as you could even call “YouTube stars” artist development at all because it ties the artist to a particular distribution platform–can you imagine “Walmart stars” or “WJCU stars”? What’s your view on the benefits of humans versus algorithms for music discovery and artist development?

A computer can never replace the power of the human touch. When I listen to music for The Heights I have only one focus: what will make my listeners sit up in their chair and reach for their phone to Shazam what they’re hearing? I play music that I think represents Cleveland. I measure my success in my job by the phone calls and emails I get from our listeners. Nothing else.

The NAB traditionally claims that the promotional value of radio compensates artists and record companies for any airplay royalty. It seems to me that commercial radio with its restrictive playlists spends more time keeping records off of their air than they do promoting music. In fact, we look to stations like yours to introduce new artists to your listening audience and not the commercial broadcasters. What do you make of this “promotion” argument?

I never hear the word “promotion”. I hear the word “exposure.” And I hate that word with the passion of a billion burning suns. When I hear it I think of some nasty greasy old man in a trench coat “exposing” himself to innocent young women. In this particular case though, that nasty greasy old man is the NAB. To imply that artists should be willing to work for free invalidates everything about them and what they have spent years working on. I would never ask any other skilled professional to work for free and it disgusts me that the radio industry finds it acceptable. Not only that, but the fact that some musicians find it okay makes me think of Stockholm Syndrome. It horrifies me that so many people have been brainwashed to believe it’s acceptable–it not only lessens their hard work but also lessens them as human beings.

I’d be interested in knowing how you perceive the #IRespectMusic movement and the effort to bring US broadcasters into line with the rest of the world. What’s your view on these developments?

I heard about the movement as soon as Blake Morgan started posting on social media. I embrace it and support it completely.

You’ve given me a copy of an email from an organization called the “Free Radio Alliance.” We did an extensive dive on the stations supporting the Free Radio Alliance and a majority were Clear Channel stations (#irespectmusic Looks Deeper: The Free Radio Astroturf Alliance Fights Artist Pay for Radio Play) This makes it look a lot like the National Association of Broadcasters. Have you ever heard from this organization before and how is it that they are reaching out to your station for membership?

I have never heard of this organization before, and the only reason I saw it was because it was sent to my boss at WJCU, who then forwarded it on to me.

Do you feel that there’s pressure from the NAB to get stations like WJCU in line to oppose Fair Play Fair Pay for some reason? (Like blocking a potential alliance with artists?)

Of course there’s pressure, simply by the fact that this letter exists and was sent to Non-Commercial stations around the country. I don’t think they have any ulterior motive beyond the given, which is to rally every station in the United States to their cause and against artists getting paid. Which is sad and pathetic, because I don’t know any GM in AAA who wouldn’t do research on their own on this matter. This is a bill that benefits local radio, college radio, Non-Commercial radio.

The Free Radio Alliance recruiting email that you’ve disclosed [reproduced below] seems to try to invoke an “us against them” message by aligning broadcasters against record companies without really mentioning the artists. The letter to Chairman Goodlatte that you wrote with Blake Morgan resonated with me because it seemed like a natural agreement between two members of the creative community about an issue that is important to the entire ecosystem. What message are you sending to your colleagues in broadcasting by sending this letter to Chairman Goodlatte?

I want my colleagues to know that it’s ok to shout from the rooftops about our acceptance and support of musicians in the United States. I know that my speaking out may make continuing to work in radio an impossibility. But I don’t care. To know the NAB is trying to make the artists the bad guys in this scenario is ludicrous. Radio wouldn’t exist without music. We need the musicians to survive. Opposing this bill goes against all reasoning to me and seeing that lobbying letter bothered me so much I knew I had to do more than be a silent supporter of the cause.

What do you think is the fair resolution of the issue of artist pay for radio play?

A fair resolution is that artists should be paid for their work. I hope beyond hope that this bill passes.

Ms. Kramer-Gould’s letter with Blake Morgan to Chairman Goodlatte:

October 26, 2015

The Honorable Bob Goodlatte
ChairmanCommittee on the Judiciary
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Goodlatte,

We’re writing to you out of respect for our individual professions, out of love for our families, and out of love for our country.

My name is Karoline Kramer-Gould and I’m the Music Director for WJCU, a non-commercial Triple-A radio station in Ohio that serves the greater Cleveland area.

My name is Blake Morgan and I’m a recording artist and songwriter living and working in New York City.

We’re writing to thank you for your leadership and to implore you to support H.R. 1733, the Fair Pay Fair Play Act of 2015. This bi-partisan bill would–for the first time in American history–ensure artists the rights to fair and reasonable royalties when their work is performed on AM/FM radio.

As you know, the United States is the only democratic country in the world where artists don’t get paid for radio airplay. Furthermore, the short list of countries that currently share the United States’ position on this issue includes Iran, North Korea, and Rwanda.

We’re writing to you together–and doing so now–with the urgent hope of dispelling the mythology that people in radio and people whose work is played on the radio are on opposite “sides” of this issue. The truth is, each of our livelihoods depend on middle-class artists and music makers being able to make a fair living from their work.

We’re writing to you to refute the factually inaccurate lobbying letters now circulating at radio stations like WJCU from the (so-called) Free Radio Alliance and the National Association of Broadcasters. Letters that aim to dissuade anyone in radio from supporting this much-needed reform. Letters that erroneously characterize this bill and assault common sense and reason.

The Fair Pay Fair Play Act rights an almost century-old wrong–one that now has our nation standing on the wrong side of history.

Music is one of the things America still makes that the world still wants. We believe the people who make that music should be paid fairly for their work.

Thank you for your courage in addressing these critical issues with such consideration as Chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary.

Together and in music,

Karoline Kramer-Gould
Music Director, WJCU
Cleveland, OH

Blake Morgan
Artist and Songwriter
New York City, NY

The “Free Radio Alliance” letter:

Dear College Broadcasters, Inc. Member Media Outlet,

Please take a moment to read this letter, because proposed legislation in Congress could cost your student media outlet financially. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help stop new fees from being imposed on college broadcasters.

Right now, there is a bill (H.R. 1733) moving through Congress that would impose a performance royalty for every song radio stations play. This legislation applies to all broadcasters, both commercial and noncommercial, and the fees are in addition to what stations already pay in streaming royalties to the SoundExchange and copyright dues to BMI, ASCAP and SESAC. Not only does this proposed law mean having to pay more in order to play music, H.R. 1733 has the potential to create significant new paperwork requirements for student media outlets.

If enacted, H.R. 1733, also known as the Fair Pay, Fair Play Act, would:

Add a new a performance royalty for sound recordings played on AM/FM radio on top of existing copyright and streaming royalty payments already in place

Put terrestrial, streaming and satellite radio all under a rate-setting standard that is most favorable to record labels and thus least favorable to radio stations and others who play record music

Set an initial royalty payment for college radio, public broadcasting stations, and other noncommercial broadcasters that will increase over time Establish a new public performance right for all recordings made before 1972 to significantly expand the number of songs subject to a performance fee

Supporters of the performance royalty recently told college radio stations that they will only have to pay $100 per year under H.R. 1733. However, H.R. 1733 contains language that is contradictory and open to interpretation, and the final royalty paid by student stations could be much higher. Equally important is the bill’s complex and burdensome record-keeping requirements that may force college radio stations to keep track of which songs and artists are played and how often, and report the size of the audience each song is reaching. Such census reporting for audio streaming has already proven difficult for student stations and without a reporting waiver, many college stations will not be able to comply with these new regulations.

In short, this proposed bill adds financial, administrative, and programmatic burdens to stations without addressing any of the challenges college stations face with current royalty statutes. If H.R. 1733 were to become law as is, your station will face new fees, more paperwork, and potential programming limitations that are likely to be harmful to your educational and public service missions.

When a performance royalty was imposed on the satellite and streaming industries twenty years ago, Congress, as well as the record labels, made clear that the new performance fee would NOT apply to terrestrial radio broadcasts. We at the Free Radio Alliance believe that this commitment must still be honored. That is why the Free Radio Alliance is working to prevent a performance royalty fee from being imposed on noncommercial and commercial stations alike.

The good news is that over 206 members of Congress have co-sponsored H.Con.Res. 17, the Local Radio Freedom Act. This resolution opposes a performance royalty. We have made great progress because radio stations have been active on Capitol Hill. But the threat is not going away any time soon.

Currently, the House Judiciary Committee is actively preparing for copyright reform legislation, which could provide an opening for the record labels to continue to move forward on a performance fee. To help combat these efforts, we hope your station will consider joining the Free Radio Alliance. There is no fee required and our only mission is to oppose a performance royalty. If you are not a member of the Free Radio Alliance and would like to be, please contact us at or call us directly at [_______].

In addition, we urge your support of our social media campaign. The Free Radio Alliance recently launched Listeners Not Labels to engage radio listeners in our fight. More than 240 million Americans listen to radio each week and we need your help engaging them. Please help us by:

Clicking here to send a tweet from your station’s Twitter account.

Clicking here to post a message on Facebook from your station’s account.

Following our account on Twitter and liking us on Facebook.

Signing the petition asking federal lawmakers to oppose a performance tax and encouraging your radio and social media followings to do the same.

To learn more about this issue, please visit or

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have. Thank you for taking the taking the time to read this letter and consider joining the Free Radio Alliance!


Peggy Binzel

Free Radio Alliance

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