U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-5) recently cosponsored two bills to ensure that musicians are paid fairly for the use of their work.
A bipartisan bill sponsored by Rep. Doug Collins (GA-9), the Songwriter Equity Act would change two provisions of the Copyright Act in order to modernize compensation in the music industry. The outdated provisions prevent songwriters from receiving fair market value for use of their music.
"Nashville wouldn't be Music City without our terrific musicians and songwriters," Cooper said. "We must be fair about investing in their talents so Nashville continues to thrive."
The Songwriter Equity Act would allow a rate court to consider different royalty rates as evidence when establishing digital performance rates. And the bill widens the overall scope of evidence that federal rate courts may examine when asked to set songwriter rates.
Similarly, Cooper has cosponsored the RESPECT Act, which would require digital radio services -- including Sirius XM and Pandora -- to pay royalties to artists who made music before February 15, 1972.
According to Rolling Stone magazine, nine of the top 10 greatest songs of all time were recorded before 1972. Meanwhile, 59 percent of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees -- including Memphis native Aretha Franklin -- have pre-1972 recordings and are not compensated for those hits.
For example, the Queen of Soul is paid whenever digital radio plays "Freeway of Love" (1985) but not -- you guessed it -- "Respect" (1967).