October 11, 2019 marked the one-year anniversary of the historic Music Modernization Act (MMA) becoming the law of the land. The MMA brought U.S. music licensing into the 21st century— delivering justice for legacy music creators and making fair market value the standard for sound recording royalties across the board in the Copyright Act, with one exception. That exception remains the unfinished business—the final obstacle to ensuring that American music creators have the right to be compensated when music services use their work. That obstacle is terrestrial, AM/FM radio.
FM radio--the largest and most profitable music platform in America--has never paid the people who record the music that is the lifeblood of their business. If that’s not bad enough, because US radio broadcasters don’t pay a performance royalty to artists, other countries deny American artists royalties they have earned for radio airplay. That results in American creators collectively losing out on close to $200M in royalties every year. The United States stands nearly alone in the world in treating music creators this way.
Congress can right this wrong by giving music creators a property right in their own work. This will hold FM radio to the same standard as the music services it competes with on the dashboard and in American homes.