Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

Debate on Music Artist Compensation

For anyone who is not familiar with The Future of Music Coalition (FMC), they are a national nonprofit organization that gives a voice to musicians on issues of compensation, diversity in musical culture, and availability of music. One of their many big campaigns is on artist compensation, making sure that all artists are compensated for their performances. If anyone is interested to learn more about the organization, check out their website.  They are based out of D.C. and have a lot of internship/volunteer opportunities.

The reason I bring up the FMC is because of a blog post I read from them. In regards to their artist compensation campaign, they write about how there is no federal copyright protection for recordings made before February of 1972. After 1972, there is a digital public performance right for sound recordings that requires labels and recording artists to get paid by satellite and Internet radio. However, any artist who produced music before the year of 1972 is excluded from this law (or at least for now).

Although there is progress being made with satellite and Internet radio, what about AM/FM radio? Well for the time being, public radio stations are not legally required to pay performers, only songwriters. The argument on the opposing side of FMC is that by airing their music on the radio, it encourages listeners to buy albums and concerts tickets which, consequently, results in pay for the artist.

Artists royalties and music copyright laws are not an issue that we have talked about much, so I would like to bring it up for discussion. What is your position? As a hypothetical policymaker, how would go about addressing the topic of artist compensation? Is a uniform policy, like the FMC suggests, the appropriate route to take?

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One comment on “Debate on Music Artist Compensation

  1. qfloyd
    October 10, 2014

    Royalties of an artist has always been a sticky situation. I did not know that artists before 1972 are not legally getting compensated for their work. SXM/Pandora/Spotify and other satellite/online businesses that make money off of playing artists’ music need to compensate all of the artists no matter what the year!

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