SoundExchange President and CEO Michael Huppe testified today at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill to discuss the current state of U.S. music licensing. Huppe was joined by representatives of A2IM, RIAA, SiriusXM, Pandora, ASCAP, and the National Association of Broadcasters, along with GRAMMY-winning singer-songwriter, Rosanne Cash.
Huppe set the tone for the discussion by laying out an important principle he believes should guide the committee’s consideration going forward: “All creators should receive fair pay, on all platforms, whenever their music is used. Period. Everyone who has a hand in the creation of music deserves fair market value for their work – and I mean everyone: songwriters and publishers, studio producers and engineers, the artists who give compositions life and record companies who help artists fulfill their creative vision.”
The hearing, which was Part Two of the IP Subcommittee’s discussion of “Music Licensing under Title 17,” touched on many issues. Members and witnesses focused on the lack of royalty payments for “pre-1972” sound recordings, a priority for SoundExchange. It was clear from the hearing that the threats to artists’ compensation are increasing across the board, and that something needs to be done to stop them.
In addition, Huppe focused on the need to eliminate “the ancient and unfair loophole that allows the $17 billion AM/FM radio industry to pay nothing for the source of its lifeblood.” AM/FM has been immune from making royalty payments to performers since the advent of broadcast radio in the 1920’s, and SoundExchange has been at the forefront of efforts to modernize the law and require AM/FM radio broadcasters to compete fairly.
Huppe called to level the playing field across all forms of radio: “Congress must get out of the business of picking winners and losers in this industry. If we want innovation, the law shouldn’t give favorable rates to some companies or breaks to older formats. Stated another way, these businesses should compete based on their public appeal and economic value — NOT on the strength of loopholes.”