SoundExchange was joined by dozens of recording artists today to launch “Project72,” a campaign to ensure equal treatment for musicians and rights holders with sound recordings made prior to 1972 from digital radio. Project72 is launching in conjunction with today’s introduction of The RESPECT Act, by Representatives George Holding (R-NC) and John Conyers (D-MI). Their legislation would require digital radio services to pay royalties to pre-1972 artists when their music is played by companies that use the statutory license administered by SoundExchange.
Project72 puts a spotlight on the fact that the biggest digital radio providers in the world are not paying royalties to musicians who recorded music before February 15, 1972. Based on their interpretation of state and federal copyright law, these multi-billion-dollar companies believe that they can use pre-1972 recordings for free, forever. SoundExchange estimates that this practice deprived legacy artists and record labels of more than $60 million in digital royalties last year alone.
“We applaud Representatives Holding and Conyers for taking this step toward righting a wrong being done to pre-72 artists whose music has inspired all of us. The RESPECT Act rightfully requires digital radio to treat all sound recordings equally, regardless of the date they were made,” said Michael Huppe, SoundExchange president and CEO. “It’s time we show respect for the legends of Motown, Jazz and Blues, and those who gave birth to Rock n’ Roll. Their work is still a massive force on radio and is the foundation of the music we listen to today.”
Project72 kicks off with an open letter, signed by more than 70 recording artists, calling on digital radio to treat all sound recordings equally and to “pay for all the music they play.” Artists and bands urging these services to “do right by legacy artists” include: The Allman Brothers Band, The Beach Boys, Roseanne Cash, Melissa Etheridge, Al Green, B.B. King, The Moody Blues, Cyndi Lauper, Martha Reeves, members of Steely Dan, The Supremes, The Temptations, Three Dog Night, and many more.
Many of the artists who have joined the campaign have pre-1972 recordings of their own and speak about the issue from personal experience. Others are post-1972 artists who believe these legendary artists have inspired and paved the way for them. Together they are all saying, “This is a matter of respect.”
“Music is my passion and my purpose, but it is also my livelihood. But, for many artists of my time who are no longer able to tour, the fact that performers with sound recordings made prior to 1972 are not being paid by certain digital radio services is a serious concern. It’s urgent that we address this growing issue now,” Martha Reeves, of Martha & The Vandellas.
“Every artist wants to create timeless music. It’s great to have SoundExchange fighting for my rights, as time passes and the music lives on,” Tommy James, of The Shondells.
“This music is our legacy. Under the current system, it feels like they are taking it away from us,” Richie Furay, of Buffalo Springfield.
Show respect for our roots and stand up for music by asking Congress to end this unfair practice. Support Project72 by tweeting “All music deserves respect, all artists deserve fairness. Join Project72 www.project-72.org: #RespectAllMusic”