U.S. Capitol Stock Photo
U.S. Capitol

Photo: Mint Images via The Recording Academy


The House Judiciary Committee Passed The American Music Fairness Act: What You Should Know

The American Music Fairness Act seeks to establish a performance right for sound recordings broadcast by terrestrial radio — and after nearly two decades, progress has come regarding AM/FM compensation for music creators.

Advocacy/Dec 13, 2022 - 07:22 pm

For nearly two decades, the Recording Academy and the musicFIRST coalition have been working with legislators on Capitol Hill to change the law so that all music creators receive compensation when their music is played on terrestrial (AM/FM) radio.

Last week, the House Judiciary Committee took a major step towards doing that by passing the American Music Fairness Act (H.R. 4130) out of committee, marking the most significant action by Congress on performance rights in the last twelve years.

Following the favorable voice vote — with no recorded votes against the bill — Recording Academy CEO, Harvey Mason jr., released a statement.

"Today's passage of the American Music Fairness Act through the House Judiciary Committee marks an important step for this critical piece of legislation, and I am grateful to Chairman Nadler, Rep. Issa, and members of the committee for supporting the music community's right to fair pay," he said. "It is vital to the health of our industry that creators are compensated for the use of their intellectual property on terrestrial radio, and the Recording Academy will continue to advocate for AMFA until this bill is signed into law."

The bill, which was introduced in the House earlier this Congress by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and former Rep.Ted Deutch (R-FL), seeks to establish a performance right for sound recordings broadcasted by terrestrial radio.

Since its introduction, it has received more than 35 bipartisan co-sponsors, and a companion bill was introduced in the Senate by Senators Padilla (D-CA) and Blackburn (R-TN.). The enactment of the American Music Fairness Act would end a century-long loophole that has enabled AM/FM radio broadcasters to use the music of hard-working performers and producers without compensating them for their work.

Currently, the United States, Iran, and North Korea are among the few developed countries in the world that do not pay artists for their work on AM/FM radio. In turn, American artists do not receive any royalties when their music is played abroad in the many countries that do pay artists leading to an economic loss of approximately $200 million annually.

During the committee markup, Rep. Issa commented on this revenue loss. He stated, "This inequity, these hundreds of millions of dollars that would be flowing into American artists is inherently unfair. Even a penny to each of these artists changes us from no money to money flowing from around the world."

In addition to Rep. Issa, we heard from other legislators on both sides of the aisle voicing their support for the American Music Fairness Act, including Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY).

Rep. Nadler stated "[American recording artists and musicians] do not receive a penny in exchange for the broadcast of their performances, even though the large broadcasting corporations playing their music take in billions of dollars every year from advertising."

He continued, "This unfairness exists because our copyright laws recognize a public performance right only in digital audio transmissions, rather than in all audio transmissions...As a result, American artists have been denied the fair compensation they are due when terrestrial radio uses their creative work. It is time for this fundamental unfairness to finally be fixed."

Although it remains to be seen if the American Music Fairness Act will be brought to the House floor for a vote in the final days of this Congress, its passage through committee shows the clear and growing support Members of Congress have for the rights of music creators.

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District Advocate Day
Rep. Jimmy Gomez and LAC DA

Photo: Rodin Eckenroth / Getty Images for the Recording Academy


Looking Back On 2022: One Of The Recording Academy’s Most Successful Years In Advocacy

From the PEACE Through Music Diplomacy’s passage into law to the return of District Advocate Day, 2022 was a banner year for Recording Academy Advocacy.

Advocacy/Jan 9, 2023 - 10:12 pm

Now that the first week of 2023 has come to a close and preparations are made for the work ahead in the 118th Congress, Recording Academy Advocacy would like to take a moment to look back on the many Academy victories our members helped accomplish for the music community in 2022.

This way, the team aims to celebrate one of the Recording Academy's most successful and impactful years in advocacy.

The PEACE Through Music Diplomacy Act Was Passed Into Law

This victory for music people occurred on Dec. 23 as part of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Its passage will use music and music-related global exchange programs as a tool to build cross-cultural understanding and advance peace abroad.

The Fight for Performance Rights Reached Historic Milestones in the House and Senate

The House Judiciary Committee passed the American Music Fairness Act (H.R. 4130) out of committee on Dec. 7. The favorable voice vote — with no recorded votes against the bill — marks the most significant action by Congress on performance rights in the last 12 years.

Read More: The House Judiciary Committee Passed The American Music Fairness Act: What You Should Know

On Feb. 2, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the American Music Fairness Act, allowing lawmakers to hear directly from music creators — including Memphis Chapter Governor Boo Mitchell — on the importance of receiving compensation when their work is played on AM/FM radio.

On May 12, Sens. Alex Padilla (D-CA) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced the American Music Fairness Act in the Senate.

This introduction exhibits the bipartisan and bicameral support for establishing a terrestrial performance right for sound recordings and ensuring that all creators are compensated for their work when played on AM/FM radio.

Rep. Green and Gramps Morgan

*Rep. Mark Green with Gramps Morgan. Photo: Terry Wyatt / Getty Images for the Recording Academy*

New Legislation Was Introduced to Protect Freedom of Expression

Reps. Hank Johnson (D-GA) and Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) introduced the Restoring Artistic Protection (RAP) Act into the House of Representatives on July 27.

The RAP Act, which is the first of its kind on a federal level, intends to protect a creator’s right to free expression by limiting the use of song lyrics and other creative works as evidence in federal court.

Its introduction marked the beginning of an important fight to protect artists' freedom of expression in all genres.

Advocacy Wins in States Across the Country

On September 30, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 2977, the Decriminalizing Artistic Expression Act, into law, marking the first of its kind to be enacted on a state level. The Recording Academy spent much of 2022 working with California State Assembly and Senate members to ensure its passage and protect artists from having their creative expression used against them in a trial.

Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) at District Advocate Day

***Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) at District Advocate Day. Photo courtesy of the Recording Academy.***

Read More: California Passes The Decriminalizing Artistic Expression Act: Why It's A Win For The First Amendment & Creative Expression

In November, Prop. 28 was on the ballot in California. This measure, which passed with over 60% of the vote, will allocate nearly $1 billion in funding to arts and music education programs in public schools throughout California. The Recording Academy, through both the Los Angeles and San Francisco Chapters, helped secure signatures to ensure Proposition 28 got on the ballot.

Allen Toussaint

*Allen Toussaint. Photo courtesy of the Recording Academy.*


After years of effort from the Recording Academy, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the Allen Toussaint Legacy Act into law on June 15. Named after the late Louisiana music legend Allen Toussaint, the law protects a person’s “right of publicity” to prevent their image and likeness from being exploited for commercial purposes.


The Recording Academy worked successfully in Georgia throughout the year with key stakeholders like Georgia Music Partners to form the inaugural Joint Georgia Music Heritage Study Committee, a bipartisan committee of state legislators tasked with identifying policy recommendations to strengthen the state’s music ecosystem.

The Recording Academy also worked to pass the Truth in Music Advertising Act and the True Origin of Goods Act, which was signed into law in May. 

The CASE Act Took Effect

On June 16, the Copyright Claims Board (CCB) officially began accepting copyright cases following the implementation of the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act, which was signed into law in 2020 after years of lobbying by the Recording Academy and its members.

This marked a huge victory for independent creators and artists who will be empowered to protect their work.

Second Largest District Advocate Day Yielded Results

Nearly 2,000 Recording Academy members came together for the Recording Academy’s first District Advocate Day in three years. Through nearly 200 meetings, Academy members reached 75% of Congress and covered 45 states (including the District of Columbia) advocating for pro-music legislation including the HITS Act, PEACE Through Music Diplomacy Act, American Music Fairness Act, and the RAP Act.

Read More: District Advocate Day 2022 Is A Wrap. What Was Accomplished, And How Do We Move Forward?

GRAMMYs On The Hill Returned After Three Years

After three years off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, GRAMMYs on the Hill returned for its 20th anniversary honoring Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), and 5-time GRAMMY winners Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. The day after the Awards dinner, GRAMMY winners and nominees took to Capitol Hill to meet with Members of Congress to advocate for pro-music legislation.

The Recording Academy looks forward to continuing this work throughout 2023 — and continuing the fight for all music people worldwide.

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Sen. Marsha Blackburn (TN)

Photo: Paul Morigi / WireImage for NARAS


Sens. Alex Padilla and Marsha Blackburn Introduce The American Music Fairness Act In The Senate: Here's What You Should Know

This new bill will ensure that artists, performers, producers, and music creators are fairly compensated when their songs are played on terrestrial radio stations.

Advocacy/Sep 23, 2022 - 08:06 pm

On Sept. 22, Sens. Alex Padilla (D-CA) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced the bipartisan American Music Fairness Act to ensure artists and music creators receive fair compensation for the use of their songs on AM/FM radio.

This legislation will hold corporate radio broadcasters accountable to pay artists and producers for their music just as other music services– like satellite, internet radio, and streaming platforms– already do Identical legislation (H.R. 4130) has already been introduced and received a hearing in the House, setting Congress up for action this fall.

"We commend this bipartisan bill led by Reps. Deutch and Issa, and we thank them for joining us in the fight for fair pay," said Harvey Mason jr., CEO of the Recording Academy. "Artists create music that can bring us together and heal us, and they deserve to be paid when their work is played on FM/AM radio."

Earlier this year, Governors and Trustees from the Recording Academy's Los Angeles and San Francisco Chapters sent a letter to Sen. Padilla asking the freshman senator to introduce the American Music Fairness Act in the Senate.

In a statement, Sen. Padilla said, "For too long, our laws have unfairly denied artists the right to receive fair compensation for their hard work and talent on AM/FM broadcasts."California's artists have played a pivotal role in enriching and diversifying our country's music scene. That is why passing the American Music Fairness Act is so important. It's time we treat our musical artists with the dignity and respect they deserve for the music they produce and we enjoy every day."

Senator Blackburn, meanwhile, has long championed the rights of creators. Prior to arriving in the Senate, Senator Blackburn led the effort to establish performance rights for artists in the House of Representatives. 

Upon introduction of today's bill, the Senator said, "From Beale Street to Music Row to the hills of East Tennessee, the Volunteer State's songwriters have undeniably made their mark… However, 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. This legislation will ensure that they receive fair payment and can keep the great hits coming."

Currently, and historically, terrestrial (AM/FM) radio stations do not pay artists for the music they play on the radio in the United States. This is because of an antiquated loophole in copyright law that allows AM/FM radio stations to play music while rightly compensating the songwriter, but not also the artists who perform the songs or the studio professional behind the sound recording. The AMFA also includes protections for songwriters to ensure the new right does not encroach on songwriter royalties.

In 2019, music broadcasters made over $10 billion by selling ad revenue, yet did not pay artists for the product – the music – that generates this revenue. The American Music Fairness Act rights this wrong by requiring major radio stations to fairly compensate all artists for their property.

The American Music Fairness Act also works to ensure that AM/FM stations are no longer the only music platforms that do not compensate artists for their music. It is long overdue for terrestrial radio stations to pay royalties to artists just like streaming services, satellite radio, online radio, and every other platform that profits off copyrighted content.

The American Music Fairness Act would establish fair market value for radio performance royalties similar to how the law currently works for other music platforms.

Additionally, the American Music Fairness Act will protect small, local broadcasters with dedicated protections and exemptions. Under the American Music Fairness Act,  radio stations that fall under $1.5 million in annual revenue and whose parent companies fall under less than $10 million in annual revenue overall would be exempt and pay a special rate of less than $2 per day ($500 annually) to play unlimited music. Other exemptions under the bill would apply to public, college and other noncommercial stations as well as super-small stations in general, who would pay as little as $10 per year.

Finally, the American Music Fairness Act supports American artists whose music is popular in other countries with a performance right. The AM/FM radio loophole currently harms American artists when foreign radio stations play their music overseas. Foreign countries routinely hold royalties that should go to US artists due to the lack of American terrestrial performance copyright.

Moreover, the US is one of the only countries that do not require a performance copyright for terrestrial radio. That means there are hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars, owed to American artists, being left on the table around the world. The American Music Fairness Act would ensure that foreign countries pay US artists when their songs are played overseas.

The Recording Academy offers a ringing endorsement of this historic advancement of the American Music Fairness Act, and promises to continue to work tirelessly to advance the interests of all music people.

Why The American Music Fairness Act Will Give Music Creators What They Deserve

Sam Moore

Photo: C Brandon


How The Recording Academy Advocates For Legislation That Could Help Generations Of Black Artists

The American Music Fairness Act and HITS Act have the potential to benefit generations of Black artists — furthering work done by the Recording Academy's Advocacy team and others

Advocacy/Feb 25, 2022 - 10:01 pm

Every year during Black History Month, the Recording Academy shines an extra bright light on the contributions and successes of Black artists, past and present. However, the work of Black artists should be championed year-round, and their contributions to popular culture honored through systemic change. As Black History Month comes to a close, the Recording Academy's Advocacy team looks ahead to pending legislation that would benefit Black artists in the long term. 

Among such proposed legislation is the American Music Fairness Act (AMFA), which would close the century-long loophole that has enabled AM/FM radio to play music without paying a royalty for sound recordings. While radio has grown to become a multibillion-dollar business, not a single cent has gone to the legion of artists behind the mic, in the booth, or on guitar —many of whom are Black music makers— involved in the creation of the sound recording.

These artists — from the trailblazing jazz acts of the '20s and '30s, to '50s pioneers of rock and roll, to the countless Motown treasures — have defined American music and culture. Yet they do not receive compensation for their contributions. This injustice has hindered the success and longevity of generations of Black artists, musicians and studio professionals, as well as their heirs.

Radio royalty payments would be of particular necessity to Black artists, who have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Americans for the Arts, 69 percent of BIPOC artists became unemployed as a result of the pandemic, losing 61 percent of their income. Comparatively, white artists had a 60 percent rate of unemployment and 56 percent loss of income.

The issue of rectifying nonexistent royalty payments has had broad support. Many leading Black artists have come to Washington, D.C., over the years to fight to end this injustice, including the late, great Mary Wilson of the Supremes. Last summer, Dionne Warwick and Sam Moore went to Capitol Hill to introduce the American Music Fairness Act, and major producer Boo Mitchell testified on the issue earlier in February in front of the House Judiciary Committee.

"This week is the 50th anniversary of Reverend Al Green's legendary Let's Stay Together album, which was produced and recorded and mixed here at Royal Studios by my father, the late Willie Mitchell," Mitchell said at the hearing, noting that the album's title track was a No. 1 hit and added to the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress. "My father, who passed away in 2010 tragically, never received a penny from radio for his work. And shamefully, neither have the other great Memphis musicians and vocalists who created this work."

Mitchell continued, "Time is running out to fix this injustice for the artists of my dad's generation … These artists aren't looking for free promotion to sell records or to go on tour. They simply want to be compensated for their work."

Following the House Judiciary Committee hearing, children of deceased Black legacy recording artists wrote a letter in support of the American Music Fairness Act. This letter outlined the importance of closing the loophole that allows terrestrial radio to get away with not paying artists for their work, as well as the incorrect nature of the National Association of Broadcasters' (NAB) arguments against the passage of the AMFA.

"For us, to hear the NAB claim that passage of a bill that finally would compensate hundreds if not thousands of black artists would somehow put small minority owned radio stations that couldn't afford $500 a year out of business, thereby devastating low income communities where Black and Latino reside is intolerable," the letter stated.

The letter also argued in favor of the bill’s protections for small, local and community radio stations that earn less than $1.5 million annually. In the letter, the heirs even offered to cover a station’s "$10, $100 or $500 only annual fees" paid through the 501(c)(3) The Soul Arts And Music Foundation, founded by Sam Moore and his wife, Joyce.

If the American Music Fairness Act becomes law, these royalty payments would provide overdue funds to artists across the country and serve as one large step toward ending systemic inequities for artists of color. Ending these disparities is at the core of the Recording Academy's Advocacy efforts.

Similarly, the Help Independent Tracks Succeed (HITS) Act is another effort that will provide much-needed, immediate relief to independent artists while benefiting them in the long term.

The HITS Act would allow artists, musicians, producers, and studio technicians to deduct the entirety of their recording expenses, up to $150,000, on their taxes for the year incurred. The HITS act passed the House in 2021 as part of the Build Back Better Act and is currently being considered in the Senate.

"We have an opportunity where every other business has all these tax laws and things that have been passed," Kevin Liles, co-founder and CEO of 300 Entertainment, CEO of Elektra Music Group, and Recording Academy member, noted of the importance of the HITS Act during a panel discussion about Black-owned small businesses.

Liles continued, "If you think about the small artist, the small producer, the recording studio — if we give them a kind of a cap, $150,000 basis, they could write off 100 percent of the cost as an expense. That little thing alone could keep the light on. It could have somebody else get another piece of equipment."

The HITS Act is another proactive step Congress can take to help the music community recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. And since the onset of COVID-19, the Recording Academy has mobilized its members to advocate for better protections and provisions for Black artists and Black-owned small businesses in the music ecosystem.

During the Academy's Summer of Advocacy in 2020, thousands of Recording Academy members successfully pushed Congress to provide targeted relief to minority-owned businesses by providing dedicated funding for underserved businesses so that they had direct access to the support and capital they deserved. The HITS Act would be another step towards recovery for Black artists and businesses, and reflects the Academy's advocacy efforts to provide economic relief and equity that encourage creative success in years to come.

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