Two Michigan Democrats spoke out on opposing sides of the Performance Rights Act on Tuesday as the PR campaign on both sides begins to heat up.

Rep. John Conyers, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said during a MusicFirst Coalition press conference that non-payment of performance royalties is a form of involuntary servitude. “This is a critical issue for not only those of us who have made music our careers, but for those who are trying to make a name for themselves in the business.”

Hours later, Rep. John Dingell told the audience at National Association of Broadcasters dinner that he opposes the act. “I am concerned that such a tax would be of less benefit to recording artists than to record labels, many of which are based abroad,” he said, adding that record labels benefit from the publicity generated by radio performances.

The Performance Rights Act would require terrestrial radio stations to pay a performance royalty to owners of the sound recordings. Currently only the composition gets a performance royalty, not the recording. Both the House and Senate passed versions of the bill last year. Conyers said on Tuesday he hopes to pass the bill in 2010 but wants to first attempt to negotiate a settlement between broadcasters and the record industry.