NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A lot of people get a cut of the money when a song plays on the radio, but not necessarily the person singing or playing the instruments. In fact, just singing the song alone can lead them to not getting paid at all for their song coming on the radio.
Tennessee Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn filed bipartisan legislation in September with California Democratic Senator Alex Padilla to require radio broadcasters to pay artists who perform the songs in addition to the songwriters.
“While broadcasters demand compensation for the content they create and distribute, they don’t apply this view to the songwriters, artists, and musicians whose music they play on the radio without paying royalties. Tennessee’s creators deserve to be compensated for their work,” Blackburn wrote.
According to Blackburn, the United States is the only democratic country in the world where the performing artist is not compensated for AM/FM radio plays.
Dave Pomeroy, President of the Nashville Musicians Association, applauds Blackburn for spearheading this legislation and says if it passes, it will be a game-changer for artists.
“Collectively, that money will change the lives of hundreds of musicians, thousands of musicians,” Pomeroy said.
But while Blackburn and Pomeroy believe this bill could help artists and musicians, singer/songwriters are concerned this will take away from their income.
“I represent several writers; we don’t have arenas filled with our concerts. We play small venues,” said Nashville boutique record label owner Wayne Haun.
Broadcasters also worry this will make keeping radio stations on the air more expensive for everyone.
“Imposing a performance royalty fee on local radio puts this free service in jeopardy. Tennessee Broadcasters have enjoyed a very strong and mutually beneficial relationship with recording artists, and we are proud to be in a state where so many forms of music have their roots, and so many talented artists call home!” said Chris Baker, President of the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters.
However, while broadcasters, writers, and performers all want to collaborate, create and distribute meaningful art to the world, there is a concern that the future of the industry might make it impossible for the music that fills their life also their livelihoods.