For approximately the 20th time since the advent of radio and records, labels and performers are hoping that proposed legislation — called, this time, the Fair Play Fair, Pay Act – will result in royalty payments from terrestrial radio. The act, sponsored by Jerrald Nadler (D-N.Y.) and co-sponsored by Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), already has produced loud opposition from the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), which has beaten back every previous attempt to legislate a performance royalty for terrestrial broadcasts of master recordings, most recently in 2009. Key elements in the new legislation include:
–Imposing a royalty on commercial radio stations comparable to a figure negotiated in an open marketplace under the auspices of the Copyright Royalty Board. Labels and performers already have obtained such a royalty from digital outlets.
–Imposing a low annual fee of $1,000 for independent radio stations with $1 million or less in annual revenue, and $500 per year for college stations. The fees are meant to undercut the NAB’s key argument against master recording performance royalties: that smaller stations can’t afford them.
–Wording that prevents radio from offsetting payments to songwriters in order to pay performers.
–Providing a process for producers, engineers and mixers to receive their applicable share of 2 percent of revenue for recordings made before Nov. 1, 1995 (when labels began paying royalties directly to producers).
“We’re pleased that 147 House members and  senators already agree that the fees proposed by Rep. Nadler would kill jobs, hurt artist promotion and devastate local economies,” the NAB said in a statement. (Many legislators already have signed a nonbinding resolution to support local radio, one of the tools that the NAB used to oppose performance-royalty legislation in 2009.) The next steps? Waiting to see if the bill reaches the House floor for a vote – and if corresponding legislation is introduced in the Senate.