Music artists in today’s day and age face a lot of different problems. Within the music industry, many artists are not getting paid for the music that they create because of all of the digital technology that is available today.
An event is being attended today by Young N Reckless Music designed to raise awareness on artist rights within the music industry. There is a significant lack of information and awareness that is resulting in problems throughout the world. If this situation isn't addressed it is going to have a negative impact on the music people still love to listen to.
There is a bill that is being pushed into Capitol Hill, known as Respecting Senior Performers as Essential Cultural Treasures Act, abbreviated simply as Respect Act. There is outdated copyright law right now, which allows radio services like Pandora, Sirius to make money off of legendary musicians, such as the Motown classics, without having to pay royalty. The act would ensure that digital radio services have to pay royalties to all classic artists who recorded music prior to 1972.
Think about all of the songs that you love that are still being played on the radio that came out before 1972. In addition to the Motown classics, you also have Otis Redding, Gene Chandler, Richie Furay, and many more.
Perhaps one of the most impressive accounts is that of Karla Redding, the daughter of Otis Redding. He died at the age of 26 and had a large catalog of music, much of which still spans the generations and is heard on the radio. She made a personal case about the unpaid royalties, defining and 90% drop in income. She feels it is only fair for Otis Redding’s estate to be compensated for all of his hard work.
Here’s another interesting problem, which is explained significantly on the BMI site. Radio airplay is defined as a public performance, and generates what is known as performance royalties, but only for songwriters, which is in turn obtained by the PROs. However, terrestrial broadcasters, such as AM and FM stations, in the United States do not pay performance or the sound recording copyright owners for the public performance. The only people who are paid are the songwriters.
For example if you listen to a popular song, such as one from Britney Spears, “Baby One More Time,” the only person who is getting paid is Max Martin as well as his publisher. Spears does not receive any royalties. This means that each time the song is played, the songwriter receives royalties, but not the performer.
The good news is that many performers will often write their own songs, and then they are of course entitled to their share of the royalties. However, some of the greatest hits across the radio stations are not written by the performer. This means that only the songwriter is making money.
If these issues don’t get addressed, it’s going to impact the music industry because there are going to be many performers/songwriters that simply walk away. There are a number of representatives that are sponsoring the bill, which proves to be good news. As democratic representative Ted Deutch from Florida explains, the pre-1972 distinction doesn’t mean anything to anyone. It doesn’t mean anything to the artist, the music fans, and therefore it shouldn't mean anything for the digital music services, either.
If the Respect Act passes, it’s going to mean artists will start being paid royalties for the recordings similar to the way that current artists are being paid. This will allow legacy artists as well as their songs to be protected under federal law. It is also going to mean major digital streaming services will have to start paying a lot more than they do now. It is currently estimated that they have lost out on more than $60 million worth of royalties only for the past 12 months, and these oldies but goodies make up approximately 15% of total airplay for the digital services.
More and more artists are joining the cause, speaking up, and educating people on what is going on within the music industry. The upcoming event should be an eye-opener for everyone.
The Respect Act is currently sitting on Capitol Hill, and has a wide range of backers, both Democrat and Republican. Cosponsors of the bill include:
Rep. Blackburn, Marsha [R-TN-7]
Rep. Coble, Howard [R-NC-6]
Rep. Gohmert, Louie [R-TX-1]
Rep. Cooper, Jim [D-TN-5]
Rep. Conyers, John, Jr. [D-MI-13]
Rep. Chu, Judy [D-CA-27]
Rep. Deutch, Theodore E. [D-FL-21]
Rep. Lowenthal, Alan S. [D-CA-47]
Rep. Jeffries, Hakeem S. [D-NY-8]
Rep. Peterson, Collin C. [D-MN-7]
Rep. Rangel, Charles B. [D-NY-13]