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Major Radio Companies Profit Off Music Creators Without Paying Them. But We Can Reverse This Tide.
iHeartMedia just offered New York a musical banquet. On Dec. 10, the radio giant's Jingle Ball Concert rolled through town, where Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa, the Jonas Brothers, Doja Cat, Lil Nas X, Saweetie, and other A-listers primed the audience for the holidays in style.
There was just one problem — iHeartMedia doesn't remunerate music creators for their work on their 855 radio stations across the U.S.
Sure, the Jonas Brothers presumably were paid for performing their hit "Sucker" on stage at Jingle Ball. But when the same song plays on iHeart's Top 40 station in your region, no royalty is going to the artists or the team of studio professionals integral to making "Sucker" a hit.
And unlike for the three Jonas brothers, there's no Jingle Ball tour for Randy Merrill (mastering engineer), Andrew DeRoberts (guitar), and Serban Ghenea (mixer), to name a few of the creatives on “Sucker” who lose out on income from corporate radio. And the same can be said for the creators who collaborate with Ed Sheeran, Lil Nas X, Tate McCrae, and others in the Jingle Ball lineup.
Big corporations are continuing to profit off the backs of music creators, and that’s why artists and producers are bringing a fight for justice on Capitol Hill to earn fair compensation for their work. And working with creators and the music industry, the musicFIRST Coalition is shedding light on this century old inequity. On the eve of Jingle Ball in NYC, musicFIRST Chair Joe Crowley released a statement.
"Like Scrooge, iHeart hoards its profits while middle-class music creators cannot pay their bills," he wrote. "Wealthy broadcasters such as iHeartRadio make no secret of their financial dominance. They crow on earnings calls about soaring advertising revenue and stock buybacks. Yet, they offer nothing to our music creators."
The American Music Fairness Act would end the loophole that allows broadcasters, like iHeartMedia, to get away with playing music and not compensating the performers and producers who created it. The bipartisan bill establishes a domestic performance right for sound recordings played on AM/FM radio stations.
Under AMFA, artists, performers, producers, and other music makers involved in the creation of a sound recording would be entitled to fair market rate for their music played on radio stations across the U.S., just like they currently receive on other music platforms like streaming services, satellite radio, and internet radio.
Companies like iHeartMedia continue to profit off music creators' labor, but this paradigm doesn't have to happen forever. Let's use events like the Jingle Ball Concert to remind ourselves of why it's important to support legislation that elevates all music people — not just a moneyed few.