Indie music labels are the ultimate small businesses. They start with a dream, assume the risk, identify up-and-coming artists, and hustle to stand out in a competitive marketplace. Over time, some grow into large ventures that deliver not just music, but jobs to communities. It’s not easy, but independent record labels persevere because of their passion to bring new voices to listeners.
Given all that they do, indie labels have earned the respect of the music industry – with one glaring exception. iHeart Media and other corporate broadcasters don’t respect them enough to pay them when they play their music on AM/FM radio. This is not an issue just for Indies, however. Broadcasters have never paid anyone performance rights for AM/FM radio play; but it cuts deep for upstart labels that operate without a safety net while they put new and diverse talent into the spotlight.
It was never right, but this injustice is a byproduct of a different era when radio stations discovered local artists and were the core vehicle by which that music was introduced to the world. That is no longer the case. Nowadays, artists are discovered on platforms such as TikTok and YouTube. Yet, iHeart Media clings to this specious claim in a desperate effort to hold onto billions of dollars in advertising revenue.
Fortunately, momentum is building in Congress to rectify this injustice thanks to the recently introduced American Music Fairness Act (AMFA). This critical piece of legislation, if passed, would ensure that Indie labels and all performers be paid for AM/FM radio plays. The bill would also protect small and mid-size radio stations by limiting their fees to play music to as low as $10 a year. How has iHeart and the National Association of Broadcasters responded? They would rather pay millions of dollars to lobbyists to maintain the status quo than pay the creators they rely upon for the music played on their stations. That is heartless.
In any other industry, we’d fall all over ourselves to go to bat for these small businesses. Yet, we make life incredibly difficult for the very people we rely upon to bring us new voices. These small businesses are our family, friends, and neighbors. It’s time we listen to them and not to the corporate billionaires. We urge you to join the music fairness movement by signing up here.
Music brings joy to all our lives. It’s often said that we should dance like no one is watching. Now is the time to use your voice so that iHeart knows everyone is watching.