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Gloria Estefan urges Congress to require artists be paid for radio song plays

On Wednesday, several music artists called on lawmakers to pass a bill that would require AM and FM radio broadcasting companies to pay royalties to performers when they play their songs on air.

Gloria Estefan was one of the members of the arts community who testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee urging them to close a loophole that allows radio broadcasters to skip paying artists.

Estefan, whose net worth is estimated to be $500 million, said the pay-for-play measure would lift up lower income artists and new performers who have not yet been able to tour due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“While I’m the one testifying before you today, I represent hundreds of thousands of Americans who endeavor to make a living making music,” Estefan said. “You know these artists. They’re your family, your friends and neighbors. They sacrifice so much to pursue their passion for music, often having to take on multiple jobs to pay the bills.” 

While artists do receive some pay for songs played on streaming sites and satellite broadcasters like SiriusXM, only songwriters receive royalty pay for songs that are played on AM and FM radio stations. The United States, as well as Iran and North Korea, are the only countries on the globe that do not pay artists for plays on AM and FM radio.

The American Music Fairness Act, which is being led by Reps. Ted Deutch, a Florida Democrat, and Darrell Issa, a California Republican, would look to remove the exemption for terrestrial stations to pay.

Issa said the small fees imposed on stations would be a fraction in comparison to the amount of revenue most broadcasters bring in yearly. “After more than 20 years of being told that you can’t afford a penny, I’m here to say this bill is…to say effectively all we’re asking for is a penny,” Issa said.

Deutch added that the passage of this bill would be a milestone marker for musicians getting paid for their work. “Music creators deserve to be paid when their music is played on the radio and Congress must listen,” Deutch tweeted prior to the hearing.

ARTICLE: ELIZABETH HERTZBERG

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: MARITIME RADIO

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