Songwriters Devistated by Government Policies

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There has always existed an extent of unfairness in the music industry against songwriters and the artists performing their songs. In 1909, the Copyright Act allowed a 2 cent royalty for songs, a rate which stood unchanged until 1976 when the law was revised to 6.35 cents, mainly due to the efforts of famous songwriter Hoyt Axton. A further revision was made in 1978 to the present royalty rate of 9.1 cents per playing.
To this day, traditional radio broadcasters across the U.S. are exempt from paying royalties to the performers of songs they play. Royalties on the public performance rights of such songs are only required to be paid to the original composers and producers. For example, when the song Like a Rolling Stone is played on the radio by Jimi Hendrix, Cher, Green Day, the Rolling Stones, or another artist (many covered that song), royalties go to the estate of Bob Dylan who wrote the song, but the performing artists as well as their record labels, backing musicians and vocalists receive nothing. The argument for this legal stance is that those performing and promoting the songs get free on-air publicity which, in turn, boosts sales of albums and associated profits. That logic may have sufficed ‘back in the day’, but it is devastating performing artists today.
U.S. Lags Behind the World
The United States is not only one of the top industrialized nations on the planet, but it is also one of the largest producers of music enjoyed by the world. It would be logical to conclud that the U.S. would also be at the forefront of protecting its powerful and profitable music industry, but that is not the case. The countries making up the European Union, as well as around 50 other nations, have active policies that support performance rights for songs played over terrestrial broadcasting sources, which means that performing artists as well as songwriters and music producers receive royalties.
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Worldwide performance right laws are extremely supportive of global performers… except those from the United States. Current U.S. laws against such rights tie the hands of foreign countries from paying performance royalties to American artists whose songs are broadcast over terrestrial broadcast sources. Therefore, resistance to change and the unwillingness of U.S. lawmakers to adjust music industry policies concerning terrestrial broadcasting is devastating American artists by robbing them of multiple millions or even billions of dollars in annual royalties.
No Silver Lining on the “Cloud”
Terrestrial broadcasting sources are not the only places where members of the music business that are feeling the effects of unfair governmental control. Songwriters, performing artists, producers and just about anyone involved in putting music together are being negatively affected by the huge popularity and expansion of the electronic network. What began only a very short time ago as cable television and basic internet service has mushroomed into a massive network consisting of an expanded cable TV and internet network, laptop computers, mobile devices, satellite and other streaming telecommunications services, file sharing, and more.
You can read more of this article in our September 2014 issue of ModelsMania

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