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.