Quick Takes: Fair Play, Fair Pay Act

The Fair Play, Fair Pay Act of 2015 is a bill recently proposed by congress which would require broadcast radio to compensate music artists with royalty fees for the first time in decades.

Fair Play, Fair Pay Act Is Long Overdue Measure to Stop the Exploitation of Musicians by Broadcasters

The easy argument to make in support of the Fair Play, Fair Pay Act is to simply state this: In not paying royalties to artists for radio play of their music, the U.S. has been aligned in policy with North Korea, Iran and China, among some others.

That, however, is only the Red Scare tactic. Surely the more egregious aspect of American policy in this area is that U.S. law prohibits the payment of royalties to American artists when their tracks are played on radio stations in countries where, typically, royalties must be paid. That seems like little more than gratuitous callousness to the benefit of no party.

Critics of this new bill have cited the supposed value of the free advertising that radio-play constitutes to an artist, as if this is equivalent to remuneration. It is not. Perhaps, in the halcyon days of yore, when hearing a good song on the radio made a person want to buy that artist’s music, unpaid radio-play was enough. But today, when over 90 percent of music downloaded is done so illegally and for free, according to the U.K. Guardian, musicians must rely on other sources of income.

In very few other industries are the workers — in this case, musicians — expected to give away the product of their labor for free. In fact, that would seem like an unsustainable business model — if the worker is not provided with the means to provide for him or herself, how could that worker be expected to provide the music that keeps radio stations afloat? You cannot have it both ways; if the product is in demand, it must be paid for.

It is in the interest of radio stations to help artists to make a living, though no single radio station would pay more money than they are forced to. Royalties are not paid unless, legally, they must be paid, as is the case in almost every other western nation. Therefore, only the federal government can help artists to sustain themselves as musicians, and this can only be accomplished through measures such as the Fair Play, Fair Pay Act.

—  SAMSON THOBURN Staff Writer

While Musicians Should Receive Support From The Radio, Royalty Fees Are Not Neccessarily the Answer

Recently, a group of Congressional representatives have introduced a bill called “The Fair Play, Fair Pay Act of 2015,” which would change the dynamic of broadcast radio. This act is opposed by most broadcasters, whose radios will face financial challenges if they pay royalty fees for all the music they air. The National Association of Broadcasters is actively fighting the new bill. Although it is important for musicians to be compensated, the radio should not be solely responsible for that.

Charging broadcasters royalty fees to play music may cause major economic damages, as radios choose music based on a scale of cost value. According to Time magazine, AM/FM radio reaches 243 million Americans who tune in on a weekly basis. This demonstrates the significance of broadcast radio as a venue for artists to have their music proliferate the market. When a breadth of audiences listens to music broadcasts, this effectively advertises musicians’ work to a plethora of potential fans.

According to the Record Industry Association of America, the profitability of the music business has plummeted since its CD golden age, from $14.6 billion in 1999 to about $7 billion in 2014. Most modern consumers are not interested in paying for music which is easily accessible online through a wealth of platforms. However, the idea that broadcast radio is responsible for fixing the problems caused by the Internet seems like an unreasonable request.

NAB Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton released a statement that said, “A little over three months into the new Congress, 146 House members and 11 senators already agree that the fees proposed by Rep. [Jerrold] Nadler [D-NY] would kill jobs, hurt artist promotion and devastate local economies across America.”

The radio broadcasting industry will be significantly hurt by this new bill, suffering harsh economic consequences. Musicians do not need compensation because broadcasting functions as an advertisement for the music itself, and this economic strategy has given American radio a huge advantage.

—  CASSIA POLLOCK Opinion Editor

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