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The Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) and the A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI) have joined with the NAACP to put to rest the false claims that legislation to give fair pay to performers whose music is played on radio would hurt black radio stations.

If enacted, the Civil Rights for Musicians Act (H.R. 848), dubbed “Fair Pay for Air Play,” would protect the rights of performers by ensuring that they get paid a fair wage when their music is played on the radio. The bill would close a loophole in copyright law that allows AM and FM stations to duck royalty payments to performing artists.

Big Radio conglomerates have pulled out all the stops to derail the bill. In an all-too-familiar scenario, corporate executives are resorting to personal attacks against the bill’s supporters, especially the bill’s sponsor, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.). They also have launched a misinformation campaign led by black-owned mega-company Radio One, which claims the legislation would hurt African American radio stations.
Says William Lucy, president of the CBTU and secretary-treasurer of AFSCME:
All workers deserve a fair wage for a fair day’s work. Musicians are no different. The way things stand now, Big Radio conglomerates make billions in advertising profits every year by playing hit music, but they don’t pay the musicians that recorded those songs a single penny. As a result, many performers have to continue going out on the road well into their 70s and 80s just to get by. That’s not right.

APRI President Clayola Brown adds:
The Civil Rights for Musicians Act won’t hurt black radio in the least. The bill includes language that protects small radio stations. Companies like Radio One that are handing out $10 million bonuses to their CEO’s can easily afford to pay the musicians that bring in their incredible profits.
The Music First Coalition, which includes the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFM) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), is leading an effort to pass the bill.

In March, Paul Almeida, president of the AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees (DPE), told the House Judiciary Committee:
Commercial radio stations earned over $16 billion in advertising revenues last year, yet they paid nothing to the performers whose music they played. As union members, we believe that this is an issue of fairness. We believe in the principle that a fair day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay.
The United States is one of only a few countries that do not provide fair performance rights on radio. The others include Qatar, Iraq, Iran, North Korea and China.

Also, because U.S. radio stations do not pay a performance royalty for foreign artists either, American artists are not compensated when their music is played on stations around the world.

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