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AFTRA Members and recording artists Sheryl Crow (L) and Emmylou Harris (R) walk with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VA) at the Performance Rights Act campaign launch in D.C. in February. Photo: Sean McCormick

What is the Performance Rights Act?


The Performance Rights Act (H.R. 848 and S. 379) is bipartisan legislation that seeks to correct the fact that the U.S. is the only developed country on the planet that does not recognize the right of performers to be compensated when their music is played on broadcast radio.

Because more than half of the world’s music is American made, countries that recognize a performance right collect and keep hundreds of millions dollars from foreign airplay of U.S. recordings that rightfully belong to American performers. The U.S. is a global leader in producing and exporting music, but American musicians and singers are hurt by the failure of our country to establish a performance right and by aligning the U.S. with countries like China, North Korea, Iran and Rwanda.

The bill will close a loophole in the U.S. Copyright Act ensuring that broadcast radio compensates all artists for playing their music on AM and FM radio stations.

AFTRA members who have spoken out on Capitol Hill about establishing a performance right on terrestrial radio include will.i.am, Sheryl Crow, George Clinton, Bob Bailey, Dan Navarro, Judy Collins, Lyle Lovett, Alice Peacock, Ray Benson, Sam Moore, Martha Reeves of Martha and the Vandellas, Duke Fakir of the Four Tops, Dionne Warwick, Sheila E. and others. Additionally, thousands of AFTRA members have contacted their representatives in Congress in support of the Performance Rights Act in response to the AFTRA activist e-mail alerts sent by the union.

AFTRA is a proud member of the musicFIRST Coalition, which is a partnership of both artists and organizations in the music community who support compensating performers for their work when it is played over the air. As an early proponent of establishing a performance right in terrestrial radio, AFTRA continues to champion efforts to assure that all artists, including featured artists, background singers, and session musicians, receive fair pay for air play

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