Performance Tax Bill Re-Introduced

Several key Members of Congress are once again pushing for legislation that would benefit record labels by creating a new terrestrial radio performance right, which would be the basis for a new royalty regime. In advance of music industry representatives descending on Capitol Hill next week, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on the Intellectual Property Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee, re-introduced the so-called Fair Play Fair Pay Act.

In a joint statement with his primary co-sponsors, Nadler called music licensing laws “antiquated and unfair.” Even though musicians currently receive free airplay by radio, boosting recognition and sales of their work, the online performance fee collector SoundExchange went further by suggesting, “Current law essentially provides a government subsidy benefiting the huge, publicly-traded companies on the backs of hard-working musicians.”

Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, President & CEO of NRB, expressed a different view: “Creating a new funding mandate for music industry giants on the backs of local radio stations is not fair, nor is it right to suggest the benefits of music airplay are a simple one-way street. This bill is counterproductive to extending the reach of Christian music.”

NRB supports the Local Radio Freedom Act, which opposes “any new performance fee, tax, royalty, or other charge relating to the public performance of sound recordings on a local radio station for broadcasting sound recordings over-the-air, or on any business for such public performance of sound recordings.” Already it has the bipartisan support of 168 representatives and 21 senators.

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: March 31, 2017

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