Do You Know The Way To Get Fair Pay?

Daryl P. Friedman's picture

Daryl P. Friedman

  • Photo: Leigh Vogel/
    Caption: Multiple GRAMMY winner Dionne Warwick is greeted by Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), left, as Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy, looks on during the GRAMMYs on the Hill Advocacy Day on April 3 in Washington, D.C.

Dionne Warwick was in D.C. last month for our GRAMMYs on the Hill Awards and Advocacy Day. The GRAMMY-winning singer is also a citizen activist, passionate about fair pay for music makers, and committed to seeing a performance right on terrestrial radio. And as I've learned from lobbying with her, when Dionne speaks, Congress listens.

We know the terrestrial radio impasse will be resolved (and quietly, even broadcasters admit their free ride will come to an end), but while "old" radio desperately clings to its business model, "new" radio is paying royalties to performers. Digital services such as Pandora, SiriusXM and iHeartRadio are required to pay SoundExchange, the agency that then splits the money between all the copyright holders and artists, per the Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act of 1995.

But even on the digital side, there's a hitch.

When Dionne's classic hits such as "Do You Know The Way To San Jose" are played on digital radio, Dionne doesn't get a penny. Why? Since sound recordings did not become protected by federal copyright until 1972, services such as SiriusXM are claiming pre-1972 works are not covered by the DPRA. Congress should address this inconsistency by granting federal protection to all pre-1972 works, as The Academy recently requested in its filing with the Copyright Office.

Today, Rep. George Holding (R-N.C.) and Judiciary Ranking Member John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) (backed by SoundExchange and the Recording Industry Association of America) offered a short-term fix to close the loophole. The RESPECT Act would require royalty payments on pre-1972 works.

The bill is certainly a step in the right direction toward addressing the inequity, and we are gratified that Reps. Holding and Conyers are raising the issue. In the future, we'll still seek full federalization. But artists are losing money today and this bill addresses that.

With the Free Market Royalty Act, the Songwriter Equity Act, the Protecting the Rights of Musicians Act, and now the RESPECT Act all introduced, it is time for our industry and Congress to unite around one common "Music Omnibus" bill, or MusicBus.

In the meantime, we hope SiriusXM, Pandora and others get the message from today's bill that mutual respect requires services that use the music to pay for the music. As Dionne would say, "That's What Friends Are For."


Lou Lollio's picture
Lou Lollio

I really appreciate the Recording Academy for taking the issues to Washington.  It has been an ongoing problem for years that needs to be addressed.  Everytime a songwriters song is played on any media he or she should be paid.  End of story.  We have the technology and we can achieve this goal.  Stay in the fight Recording Academy.  I am proud to be a member.  Best always,  Lou Lollio


shirleycason's picture

Thank you Recording Academy for going to Washington to get these copyright laws updated. The Respect Act is the right message to send to Pandora & SiriusXM about fair compensation for all music they use to create their profits.

Shirley Cason

Melanie Phippard's picture
Melanie Phippard

Protecting the rights and "writes" of singers, singer/songwriters, and everyone involved in the creation of music is the least we can expect from Congress and our government.  I hope we can get this Respect Act passed.  It can take years to write just the right song, just the right words, with just the right melody.  People need to get paid for this very valuable work.  Everyone deserves to have a happy song in their hearts, and the musicians won't have one if they aren't paid for the songs they write.  All songs should be protected.  End of song, end of story.


Paul Avgerinos's picture
Paul Avgerinos

Bravo ! Keep fighting for our rights in these rapidly changing times.

The streaming tsunami is changing everything. . . yet again !

I've been in this biz for almost 30 years and I am proud to have you representing our fragile and crucial interests.

Warm Regards,

Paul Avgerinos / Round Sky Music

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