Performance Rights Act hearing 3/10

US CapitolThe Judiciary Committee of the US House Of Representatives will take up the Performance Rights Act today (3/10) with a hearing at 10:00 a.m.

This legislation (H.R.848) seeks to require broadcast radio (terrestrial transmitter-based) to pay royalties to artists and performers each time a song is played. These royalties are currently paid to copyright holders (songwriters) by statute, and this proposed legislation would extend payments to include the named artist and studio musicians as well.

Proponents point out that these performance royalties are currently paid for satellite and internet radio, and that many other nations require them to be paid for broadcast radio as well. The Recording Industry Artist Association (RIAA) and record labels see it as a possible revenue stream to help offset declining income from CD sales, as do session players and artists.

Radio industry organizations argue that this doubling of payments would be an undue burden on their operating expenses, and that the airplay serves as important free publicity for the artists and labels.

Though bluegrass and traditional music formats are not likely to be discussed in the hearing, the legislation is being followed closely by industry folks in our community, with the same battle lines as described above.

The hearing begins at 10:00 a.m. (EDT) and can be seen via online streaming video.

Witnesses expected to testify include:

  • Billy Corgan – Vocalist and Lead Guitarist, The Smashing Pumpkins
  • Mitch Bainwol – Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Recording Industry Artist Association
  • Paul Almeida – President, Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO
  • W. Lawrence Patrick – President, Patrick Communications
  • Stan Liebowitz, Ph.D. – Ashbel Smith Distinguished Professor of Managerial Economics, University of Texas at Dallas
  • Steve Newberry – Chairman of the Radio Board, National Association of Broadcasters

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.