In a move to bolster its campaign to get Congress to pass the Performance Right Act, which calls for artists and master rights owners to be compensated when their songs are played on terrestrial radio, the musicFirst coalition visited the halls of the U.S. Congress.

In addition to representatives from music trade associations such as Recording Academy president/CEO Neil Portnow, artists such as will.i.am, Sheryl Crow, Herbie Hancock, Emmylou Harris, Patti LaBelle, Matt Maher, Los Tigres del Norte and Dionne Warwick visited Congress to make their case. They joined legislators who have authored the proposed legislation such as Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee; Representatives John Conyers (D-MI), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Howard Berman (D-CA), Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).

Supporting organizations of the musicFirst coalitoin include: American
Association of Independent Music (A2IM), American Federation of Musicians (AFM), American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), Christian Music Trade Association (CMTA), Music Managers Forum - USA (MMF-USA), The Latin Recording Academy, The Recording Academy, The Rhythm & Blues Foundation, Inc., Recording Artists’ Coalition (RAC), Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Society of Singers, SoundExchange and Vocal Group Hall of Fame, according to a news release issued by musicFirst.

While songwriters are compensated when their songs are performed on U.S. broadcast radio—and artists and musicians in other countries receive such performance royalties—in the U.S. they are only compensated from digital broadcasts from satellite, webcasting and cable TV music channels. The musicFirst Coalition is trying to get those types of royalties applied to terrestrial radio.

The National Assn. of Broadcasters opposes the legislation introduced Feb. 4, calling the proposed royalty a tax. To counter musicFirst, members of Congress favorable to NAB's position have introduced an anti-performance tax resolution that says Congress shouldn't impose any new fee, tax, royalty or other charge on the public performance of over-the-air sound recordings. Today, the NAB announced that 16 members of Congress had signed the resolution, bringing total signatories to 126.