Fixing Music Royalty Laws

Fixing Music Royalty Laws

PJ Morton, the keyboardist for Maroon 5, is speaking out against the outdated and unfair compensation laws that are affecting artists across the country. He states he has gained a whole new insight into the music industry after opening his own record label. The biggest problem is the system that governs royalties awarded to music creators. Minor updates have been instilled, but growth in technology vastly outpaces these changes, allowing for gaps in copyright law, unfair rates, and loopholes allowing for corporations to profit from creators with paying them a dime.

What many are unaware of is that, when a song plays on AM/FM radio, only the songwriters can receive royalties and not the performers. Our nation is one of four developed countries that allow this, alongside North Korea, Sudan, and Iran. Foreign artists are also affected if their songs are played on U.S. radio, and vice versa should American artists songs be played where no royalties are given. The income lost due to this is over $200 million annually.

PJ warns that this system will be detrimental for up-and-coming artists, resulting in losing talented musicians that can’t survive off the compensation laws. However, he and over 1,600 other artists of the Recording Academy are taking a stand to Congressional leaders. On October 18th, they met with local Congressional offices on what is now called Recording Academy’s District Advocate Day. They proposed the H.R. 1836: The Fair Play Fair Pay Act of 2017 to reform music licensing, allowing to close corporate loopholes for AM/FM radio. It would ensure all music platforms play by the same rules while also protecting smaller stations.

The act would include having any sound recordings prior to 1972 under federal copyright protections and incorporate music producers and engineers into copyright law. It would also force Congress to look at payments for songwriters that go below the market and update music licensing to benefit the digital market’s continuous growth.

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