New Group Formed by Artists, Labels; Bashes ‘Corporate Radio’

Another group has formed to represent the rights of artists in the digital music rights fight to get music royalties compensation from radio.
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Another group has formed to represent the rights of artists in the digital music rights fight to get music royalties compensation from radio.

A partnership of artists and music industry organizations launched musicFIRST, for “Fairness in Radio Starting Today.”

This coalition is asking that performers - aspiring and local artists, background singers and stars - be compensated when their music is broadcast over the air. Some 100 recording artists, including Martha Reeves, Jimmy Buffett, Celine Dion, The Doors, Earth, Wind & Fire, Patti LaBelle and Mary Wilson, have signed on as founding members.

Radio does pay royalties to ASCAP, BMI and SESAC, groups that distribute compensation to artists, but music labels have been fighting for higher rates from radio. The RIAA and SoundExchange are among 11 music industry organizations that belong to the new coalition.

“Of all the ways we listen to music, ‘Corporate Radio’ is the only medium that refuses to pay performers even a fraction of a penny for their voice and creativity,” stated Mark Kadesh, executive director of musicFIRST. “This campaign is about making sure everyone, from up-and-coming artists to our favorites from years-ago, is guaranteed fair treatment when their music is played.”

The new group is lobbying Congress, along with the RIAA, to support legislation to levy digital performance rights royalties on radio. NAB calls it a performance tax.

NAB, CEA, other interested parties and the RIAA have been in talks to try to develop a non-legislated solution. In hearings on the digital performance rights issue, lawmakers have said they prefer that industry solve the issue without government intervention.

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