April 15, 2015
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—The musicFIRST coalition announced on Monday morning new legislation being introduced by Congressman Jerrold Nadler that would require radio broadcasters to start paying musicians when they’re music is played either on Internet, satellite or AM/FM radio. SAG-AFTRA is very much part of the coalition supporting the Fair Play Fair Pay Act of 2015.
On Monday we video interviewed Ted Kalo, musicFIRST’s executive director, who explained that fundamental inequities exist in the music licensing system that benefit songwriters who are paid each time they’re music is played over the airwaves, but not the musicians who popularize the songs. He said that that the Fair Play Fair Pay Act of 2015 would correct the inequities.
In the accompanying video, we interviewed SAG-AFTRA’s national executive director, David White, about the role SAG-AFTRA will play in the coalition.
“We’ve been involved for quite some time. There are a number of organizations that are fighting a similar cause. As part of this coalition, we work together to advance the interests of artists. And this [press conference] is particularly important because [the public] doesn’t realize that when they’re listening to music across the radio the musicians they’re singing along to are not getting paid,” said White.
As Mr. Kalo told LaborPress in a video interview at SAG-AFTRA’s office on Monday, musicians are paid different rates based on the radio technology platform hosting the music.
“If you’re hearing the song on Internet radio, the artist might be getting fair market value; if you’re listening to it on satellite radio, they’re getting below market pay; and if you’re listening to it on AM/FM radio, they’re not getting paid at all,” said Kalo.
Just as we asked Mr. Kalo about many music fans being flabbergasted when they learn that their favorite musicians are being paid small radio royalties, we asked Mr. White what would he say to music fans if they were to ask him how could that be when some well-known musicians have had long, lucrative careers in the business.
“The overwhelming majority of compensation that comes from record sales goes to the top one, two percent of artists. Just take iTunes—the top one percent of artists who sell on iTunes makes up about 75 percent of the compensation, but there’s something like 43 million songs that are being sold, [but] the vast majority of people are unable to make anything close to a living off of record sales. They need to be fairly compensated when their music is being played anywhere, including on the radio,” said White.