The Fair Play Fair Pay Act of 2015 (FPFPA), introduced as HR 1733 on April 13, is the latest congressional effort to rebalance the economics of music. Unlike satellite radio, digital broadcasters and even an AM/FM station’s own online simulcast, U.S. terrestrial radio is exempt from paying royalties on public performances of sound recordings. The legal fiction separating analog and digital plays creates a pay disparity for musicians.
Radio stations have to pay songwriters and music publishers, but not recording artists and labels. FPFPA, co-sponsored by U.S. Reps. Jerrold Nadler, D-New York; Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee; John Conyers, D-Michigan; and Theodore Deutch, D-Florida, emphasizes “platform parity” for rights holders. After all, the bill’s supporters emphasize, why should it matter to the vocalist who made the song famous if a listener experiences a broadcast performance over the air instead of over the Internet?
Public confusion over the flow of money in music licensing is rampant. Recently, the Future of Music Coalition (FMC), a national nonprofit music advocacy and education organization, published results from its Music and Money Quiz. Over one-third of respondents did not know who was paid for a terrestrial radio broadcast—choosing, incorrectly, the entire set of standard rights holders in the music industry. […]