Gloria Estefan presses House Judiciary on radio royalties bill
Gloria Estefan is aiming to turn the beat around for singers’ wallets, telling Congress a music royalties bill would help artists who “cannot pay the rent” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The “Rhythm is Gonna Get You” singer appeared at a virtual House Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday to push lawmakers to pass the American Music Fairness Act, which would require radio stations to pay performers if they play their songs.
“Each of the songs that are precious and meaningful to you was a labor of love for the songwriters, the artists, the musicians and producers that brought it to life. They poured their own hearts and souls into its creation. But when their music is played on the radio, artists don’t get paid, only the songwriters,” Estefan, 64, said.
While radio stations benefit from advertising dollars, the Grammy Award-winner said, the “featured artists, the singers, producers and studio musicians are left out.”
She called the practice “problematic” for older entertainers who aren’t topping the music charts but still get their songs played on the radio, and for performers who have been sidelined by COVID-19-related closures.
“For so many American music creators, life has become dire since the start of the pandemic,” Estefan said. “As a result of COVID, they have had to drastically cut back on live performances, or cut them out altogether, eliminating an important and often sole source of revenue.”
She pushed back on the long-standing position from radio stations that argue playing music over their air provides a promotional tool to get more new pairs of ears listening to the artists’ songs.
“These hardworking, middle-class Americans cannot pay the rent for the exposure offered to them by broadcast companies,” Estefan said.
Estefan testified that traditional, broadcast radio remains the “only platform that does not compensate performers for the sound recordings they use to fuel often-billion dollar businesses,” and is the “only industry in America that can use another’s intellectual property without permission or compensation.”
The bill, introduced by Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), would “ensure that all competing music platforms are treated equally,” Estefan said.
“Though life isn’t fair, and we can’t change that, the payment of music royalties should be — because that’s what respect is all about.”
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