Performance Tax Update from Capitol Hill

Performance tax activity increased around the Recording Academy’s annual Grammys on the Hill event in early April, with two performance tax bills introduced in the House of Representatives. First, Reps. Marsha Blackburn (TN-07) and Jerry Nadler (NY-10) reintroduced the Fair Play Fair Pay Act (H.R. 1836), which would impose a performance tax on local radio stations, require payment for pre-1972 sound recording performances and make other music licensing changes. Additionally, Reps. Darrell Issa (CA-49) and Ted Deutch (FL-22) introduced the Performance Royalty Owners of Music Opportunity to Earn (PROMOTE) Act (H.R. 1914), which would enable record labels and artists to prohibit radio airplay of their sound recordings absent a radio station negotiating for permission or paying a rate equal to what broadcasters already pay for streaming. NAB opposed both bills upon introduction and coordinated pro-radio engagement from NAB member stations, state association executives and the Free Radio Alliance. While this music industry activity brought celebrity musicians to the Hill and generated headlines, the political reality is that the reintroduced legislation did not gain traction last Congress and the new legislation fractures the music industry by pitting artists and labels against songwriter and publisher interests. The NAB-supported Local Radio Freedom Act (H.Con.Res. 13, S.Con.Res. 6), which states Congress’s opposition to any new performance tax, is up to 177 and 22 cosponsors in the House and Senate, respectively. NAB will continue to work to attract more cosponsors to signal any performance tax legislation – whether stand-alone or included in a broader copyright overhaul – is a non-starter and a poison pill.



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