San Fernando Valley Los Angeles Attorneys
Navigation Two
Phone Number
« Benefits of an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust as Security for Support | Main | Transgender Rights in the Workplace: A Guide for Employers to Protect Against Harassment & Discrimination »

Music Artists take Charge - The Fair Play Fair Pay Act


Franchise Agreement LawyerIntellectual Property Attorney


by Tal Grinblat


Music RoyaltiesOn April 13th, four Congressional members introduced the Fair Play, Fair Pay Act of 2015 (FPFPA), which requires traditional radio stations to pay song writers and performers royalties – just as their internet and satellite counterparts do.

Additionally, FPFPA seeks to put a stop to broadcasters exploiting music released before 1972. Currently royalty rights for recordings made before 1972 are governed by state law and not the federal Copyright Act. And brick and mortar radio stations must only pay royalties to the composers or publishing companies, not to the actual performers and musicians for the songs.

The Act’s goals are to settle other legal questions regarding royalty payments.

Companies like Muzak began streaming music to Dish Network before the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was signed into law by President Clinton in 1998, and were "grandfathered" into paying 8.5 percent of revenue towards royalties, rather than the 15 percent currently mandated.  A recently filed suit contends that Muzak should not be allowed to pay the lower royalty rate as it expands to other platforms like DirecTV's Sonic Tap.

The FPFPA was introduced by Representatives Jerrold Nadler of New York and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, and is co-sponsored by John Conyers of Michigan and Ted Deutch of Florida. A whole marching band of music greats (Cyndi Lauper, Marshall Crenshaw, Gloria Gaynor, to name a few) have also come out in support of FPFP.

Copyright Attorney

What else is on track for the Fair Play Fair Pay Act

  • Grounding: Brick and mortar AM/FM stations will have to pay performance royalties just as cyber stations do, under new terrestrial performance rights.

  • Pay Parity: Unified royalty standards for all radio platforms to ensure that streamers and stations pay the same rates.

  • Un-Equalization: Capping royalty obligations for stations with less than $1M annual revenue at $500 per year (and at $100 a year for non-commercial stations); and exempting incidental or religious uses of music from royalty obligations.

  • Messaging: Providing a mechanism for pre-1972 recordings and artists to be paid royalties.

  • Publisher Protections: Prohibits use of the FPFPA to lower royalties for artists and publishers.

  • Canon: Streamlining royalty payment practices. 

In the past, broadcast stations were allowed to play recorded music free of charge – programmed music was considered a promotional use that prompted listeners to buy records, tapes and CDs, not to mention tickets to concerts.  But those sales have dropped dramatically with the advent of free streaming services – and both satellite and internet services have exploited the lack of federal copyright protection for pre-1972 recordings.


Tal Grinblat is an Intellectual Property Attorney. Contact him via phone: 818.907.3284, or by email:

This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

LEWITT HACKMAN | 16633 Ventura Boulevard, Eleventh Floor, Encino, California 91436-1865 | 818.990.2120