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Music royalties taking center stage in DC

While a majority of the U.S. House now is on record opposing efforts by the record labels to force a Performance Tax on radio stations, the push to extract more money from local broadcasters for music royalties continues unabated. This week, songwriters are hitting Capitol Hill to push for legislation that would increase the royalties that must be paid to them through ASCAP and BMI.

H.R. 4079, called the “Songwriter Equity Act” would signal to the special courts that set fees for music performances that songwriters’ rates should be increased, hiking costs for all music platforms, not just broadcasters.  To rub salt in the wound, the measure also would prevent the Copyright Royalty Board from considering these additional fees when setting rates paid to performers, meaning the music platforms would shoulder the entire cost of the increase in songwriter royalties.

The legislation is under consideration by the House Judiciary Committee which is conducting a comprehensive review of the Copyright Act.  To date, 10 House members have signed on as co-sponsors – none from Texas – and TAB is mobilizing members to ensure Texas members of Congress understand the full effect of the bill on stations’ ability to stay afloat and serve their local communities.

If adopted, the measure not only would threaten the viability of stations large and small, it also would make it more difficult for new artists to build their careers, hamper local businesses’ efforts to reach local consumers and shrink the range of music available to listeners.

On another front in the music royalty scene, the Copyright Royalty Board last week announced plans to change the recordkeeping required of webcasters.  Comments on the proposed rule changes are due June 2 as outlined in this summary of the proposal by David Oxenford with Wilkinson Barker and Knauer, a TAB Associate Member.

Questions?  Contact TAB's Oscar Rodriguez or call (512) 322-9944.

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