When the Copyright Law was passed in 1909, only songwriters received royalties on their music being played over the radio because digitally recording music was not yet part of the industry. Many industry veterans, like Martha Reeves of The Vandellas likes being admired for her popular older hits, but would like to receive some sort of compensation for increasing the marketability of specific radio services.
Satellite and Internet radio are the only radio services that pay royalties on master recordings because of the DMCA of 1998. All radio services pay songwriter performance royalties. The radio industry is known to have a powerful lobby behind them, so previous attempts have been forted. The new “Fair Play, Fair Pay Act of 2015” has changed its rhetoric a bit to pre-empt some of the past rhetorical tactics used by the radio industry to counter against master recording performance royalties. For example, radio stations making less than $1 million in revenue per year will only be required to pay $500 in performance royalties. College radio stations will only have to pay $100, because the high rate of royalties would simply put these smaller radio stations out of business.
The radio industry keeps blaming the economy for their inability to pay performers, saying that they just don’t have the funds to pay performers. House Democrat Jerrold Nadler simply exclaims, “What other industry says, ‘we can’t afford our workers; we want them to work for free?” There are many complexities when it comes to copyright law for artists, but CEO of SoundExchange, Michael Huppe, says that there is one solution that is clear as day: artists should get paid when their song gets played on the air.