Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Since the inception of commercial radio, broadcasters have always paid royalties to organizations like ASCAP (The American Society of Composers, Artists, and Musicians), BMI (Broadcast Music Incorporated), and SESAC (Society of European Stage Authors and Composers) to compensate the composers of the songs we enjoy on the radio.

Now, record companies and artists are demanding that these same radio stations provide compensation to them, just as the stations do for composers.

To oppose this move, a bipartisan coalition of U.S. Senators and Representatives have authored ‘The Local Radio Freedom Act’.

Performers want to be Paid Directly by Radio Stations just like Songwriters

KGVO News reached out to Dewey Bruce, President and CEO of the Montana Broadcasters Association to explain why the MBA supports the Local Radio Freedom Act.

“We, as radio broadcasters, pay the songwriters through ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. And we pay based on our revenue, the songwriters a fee which is a percentage of our revenue for playing their songs and that's for the songwriter,” began Bruce.”

Bruce said for the past several years, performers have also wanted to be paid by the radio stations, as well.

“What the record labels want to do is they want us to pay the performer, that’s the person that plays the song, the musician on the record,” he said. “What we're saying is that we already pay the songwriter. We are already probably one of the best sources of advertisement for the performer as far as their record sales, and their concerts. Because of this we don't feel because of the value that we give them for playing their music, that we need to pay them.”

Streaming Services pay Royalties to Performers

Since the advent of streaming music, Bruce said the artists are already receiving compensation for their performances.

“With syndicated streaming that sort of thing they can charge for that service,” he said. “We're free over the air. We don't charge for you to be able to listen to your show, Peter, or anybody else's show. So we're not making money off of the performer and we already compensate the songwriter.”

Paying Performers in Addition to Songwriters could put Local Stations out of Business

Bruce said the small, locally owned radio stations would have to reduce staff or in some cases close down to comply with the increasing costs.

He said the entire Montana Congressional Delegation has signed on in support of the Local Radio Freedom Act.

"Now all of the Montana delegation fees this issue knows how important broadcast is and have signed on to the local Radio Freedom Act, and they haven't only signed on this year; they have signed on multiple years," he said. "And so please reach out to Senator Tester, Senator Danes, Congressman Zinke, and Congressman Rosendale and thank them for helping the local broadcaster because they are helping us."

If you support your local radio stations, click here for more details.

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