Music creators are the ultimate small businesses. They start with a dream, perfect their craft, book shows, get paid by the gig, and understand and respect the hustle. Many musicians live paycheck to paycheck and may rely on a second job to keep their music careers alive. And too often, musicians – our family members, friends, and neighbors – don’t get the respect they deserve. For example, it shocks many outside the industry to learn that corporate broadcasters who control AM/FM radio refuse to pay performance royalties on the music they air —vital income creators deserve to rightfully collect.
While music creators are compensated for streams of their songs via digital providers and platforms such as SiriusXM, Spotify, they do not a dime from AM/FM radio stations.
Take a moment to think of another business offering a product and not getting paid for it. This injustice hits artists hard, because for every big-name music creator, there are tens of thousands of creators like Jared Big Canoe. Jared Big Canoe was born on the Georgina Island First Nation and started singing at age four and writing lyrics for hip-hop songs by age 12. When SoundExchange connected with Jared to notify him of due digital performance royalties, his response was, “Finally some reward for years of making music!”
There is a growing awakening to this issue. When Americans find out music creators aren’t paid for AM/FM song plays, they overwhelmingly support congressional action to right that wrong. A bipartisan group of members of Congress is leading the charge to pass the American Music Fairness Act (AMFA), so that creators can finally be paid fairly for their work.
The legislation would ensure that billion-dollar broadcasters pay their fair share to creators, while ensuring that smaller, local or independent broadcasters are either exempt or pay a small annual fee of $500 or less for the right to play music. This is a common-sense approach.
The fight for music fairness is far from over. You can support the vital work by visiting musicFIRST, a coalition dedicated to getting creators the respect and financial justice they deserve. Together with one voice, we are determined to see passage of the American Music Fairness Act and deliver a victory for generations of artists who fill our souls with music.