Michael Huppe is CEO of SoundExchange, the independent nonprofit performance rights organization that collects and distributes digital performance royalties to musicians. In 2014, SoundExchange distributed more than $773 million in royalties to working musicians. In this exclusive op-ed with Billboard, Huppe reveals his support for the "Fair Pay for Fair Play" act unveiled last week by Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).
There exists a growing movement in our country to base consumer decisions on whether or not the good or service being purchased is created under principles of fairness and justice. We pay extra for “fair trade” coffee harvested under conditions that treat agricultural workers fairly. We boycott brands of designer clothes manufactured using offensive labor tactics in faraway countries. Yet every day many of us consume a product that is founded on mistreatment of the people at the heart of its very creation -- music.
For decades now, music services (most notably FM radio) have existed on business models that do not fairly compensate performers who create the music that is the backbone of offerings. This unfortunate situation has been enabled by imperfect and complicated copyright laws that allow multi-billion dollar businesses to profit at the expense of recording artists, especially in the digital age. And while the digital music era has brought tremendous innovations to market in the form of slick experiences and cool business models, there remains this harmful underbelly of inequity that is invisible to the consumer. All creators should receive fair pay, on all platforms and technologies, whenever their music is used. It’s time for us to demand the same protection and fairness to toiling musicians that we seek in many other areas of our life.