The NAB recently announced that a majority of Congress has signed on to the Local Radio Freedom Act, the nonbinding resolution where Congressional representatives declare their opposition to the adoption of a broadcast performance royalty. With that announcement, it is worth taking another look at what a broadcast performance royalty is and what might happen next. We have been covering the arguments about a broadcast performance royalty for over 13 years, but it still bears consideration as I find that there are still broadcasters who do not fully understand the issues.
As we’ve written before, the royalties that broadcasters pay to ASCAP, BMI, SESAC and even GMR are paid for the public performance of musical compositions (or “musical works,” the words and music in a song). These royalties are paid to the composers of music (and the copyright holders in the musical compositions, usually a publishing company). The broadcast performance royalty proposes that broadcasters also pay royalties for the public performance of sound recordings. A sound recording is the actual recording of a musical composition by a singer or band. Sound recording royalties are paid to the performers (and the copyright holders in the performances, usually the record labels). Broadcasters do pay these royalties now to SoundExchange when they stream their programming on the Internet. But in the US, other than digital audio services (like webcasters and music services like Pandora, Sirius XM, Spotify or Apple Music), over-the-air broadcasters and other businesses (like bars, restaurants, and retail establishments) who play sound recordings are not subject to a performance royalty for the performance of those sound recordings, though such royalties are paid in many other countries in the world.
Continue Reading NAB Announces that a Majority in Congress Have Signed on to the Local Radio Freedom Act – A Look at the Broadcast Performance Royalty Debate