Bette Midler, Jason Isbell Join Statement to Congress Urging CLASSICS Act Passage

Bette Midler
Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images

Bette Midler attends AARP's 15th Annual Movies For Grownups Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, Calif.

A group of more than 40 artists, including Jason Isbell, Emmylou Harris, Henry Rollins and Bette Midler, have signed a letter to Congress urging them to pass the CLASSICS Act, which would require digital radio services such as SiriusXM to pay royalties on pre-1972 sound recordings.

"Digital radio makes billions of dollars a year from airplay of music made before 1972," the artists wrote. "Yet, because of an ambiguity in state and federal copyright laws, artists and copyright owners who created that music receive nothing for the use of their work. The 'CLASSICS Act' would correct this inequity and finally ensure that musicians and vocalists who made those timeless songs finally get their due. We urge Congress to pass the CLASSICS Act and other pro-artist reforms quickly."

As it stands, SiriusXM cites state laws in allowing them to pay less (and in some cases no) royalties to play songs recorded before 1972. The CLASSICS Act -- which stands for Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, & Important Contributions to Society Act -- would close that loophole and require a uniform digital royalty rate for all music.

Read the bill here.


• Stelth Alexander

• Matraca Berg

• T Bone Burnett

• Clem Burke

• Mary Chapin Carpenter  

• Rosanne Cash

• Beth Nielsen Chapman

• Marc Cohn

• Ry Cooder

• Rodney Crowell

• John Doe

• Jerry Douglas

• Mark Erelli

• Mary Gauthier

• Emmylou Harris

• Debbie Harry

• David Hood

• Patterson Hood

• Jason Isbell

• Kris Kristofferson

• John Leventhal

• Mac McAnally

• John McCrea

• Bette Midler

• Rhett Miller

• Parker Millsap

• Jason Moran

• Paul Moravec

• Grant-Lee Phillips

• John Prine

• Bonnie Raitt

• East Bay Ray

• Vernon Reid

• Henry Rollins

• Amanda Shires

• Wesley Stace (John Wesley Harding)

• Chris Stein

• Jeff Tweedy

• John Paul White

• Hank Williams Estate

• Hal Willner