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Performance Tax Opposition Grows With Addition Of Four House Democrats February 24, 2010

Posted by David W. King in Uncategorized.
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Four additional House Democrats have voiced their opposition to performance tax legislation, NAB announced today. The growing Congressional opposition comes as the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) continues to lobby in support of legislation that would require local radio stations to pay an additional fee for every song aired free to listeners.

Reps. Travis Childers (MS-1), Mike McMahon (NY-13), Bill Owens (NY-23), and Mark Schauer (MI-7) are the newest co-sponsors of the Local Radio Freedom Act, a bipartisan resolution now supported by 256 House lawmakers and 27 U.S. Senators, which expressly opposes “any new performance fee, tax, royalty or other charge” on local radio stations for music aired free to listeners.

Just as Congressional opposition to the record label-led performance tax effort continues to grow, so too does the number of musical artists that recognize the promotional power of free radio airplay. In a Friday appearance on “Oprah,” Grammy-winning country band Lady Antebellum reflected on hearing their song played on local radio for the first time.

“It was Rochester, New York,” band member Charles Kelly explained. “We had just had dinner with [the DJ] that night, and we called in and said: ‘Can you please play this song? We’ve never heard it on the radio.’ And he did, and the tears started coming.”

“We had just released it a couple of weeks before, and it was definitely something we’ll never forget,” band member Hillary Scott continued.

Lady Antebellum’s recognition of the role local radio played in boosting their career follows similar public praise from dozens of recording artists and record label executives, including U2’s Bono, rapper Lil Wayne, country musician Taylor Swift, and legendary music mogul Clive Davis.

“We’re pleased that the bipartisan Congressional opposition to an RIAA tax on free radio continues to grow,” said NAB Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton. “Local radio provides an unparalleled promotional platform for the record labels and performing artists, as validated by the comments of Lady Antebellum. We’re hopeful that Congress will ultimately reject RIAA’s reckless campaign against America’s hometown radio stations.”

“Congress should not impose any new performance fee, tax, royalty, or other charge relating to the public performance of sound recordings on a local radio station for broadcasting sound recordings over-the-air, or on any business for such public performance of sound recordings,” reads The Local Radio Freedom Act, which was unveiled at a 2009 Capitol Hill event hosted by the Free Radio Alliance. The resolution was introduced by Reps. Gene Green (TX-29) and Mike Conaway (TX-11) in the House and by Sens. Blanche Lincoln (AR) and John Barrasso (WY) in the Senate.

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