Conyers Introduces “RESPECT Act” to Ensure Fairness for Music Legends & Motown Greats
(WASHINGTON) – Today, Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) joined with Congressman George Holding (R-N.C.) in introducing new legislation to ensure satellite and Internet radio services pay royalties they owe to legendary musicians and artists. Digital radio services today claim a legal loophole allows them to broadcast music recorded before February 15, 1972 without paying anything to the artists and labels that created it, shortchanging all music creators who were creating music before the early ‘70s. This policy is also destructive to legacy music communities like Detroit where so much musical history was made and where many would-be recipients of pre-1972 royalties remain. Following the introduction of the legislation, Rep. Conyers issued the following statement:
“Digital radio stations that earn millions off Motown classics but fail to pay royalties to the artists who recorded them are withholding hard-earned profits from deserving musicians. Refusing retired artists royalties from digital radio stations is particularly unfair. The RESPECT Act keeps faith with these living legends of American music – the famous greats and the less known musicians who supported them – and makes sure they get a fair shake. At a minimum, that means getting fair pay from the digital radio stations who are marketing stations based solely of pre-72 music and profiting off the work of the men and women who inspired a musical revolution,” said Conyers.
Martha Reeves of Martha and the Vandellas and a former Detroit City Councilwoman from 2005-2009 supports the legislation: “From Hitsville to Nashville, some of the greatest music the world has ever known was recorded in the 1960s. And yet it’s this golden age of music that digital radio says is worthless. Taking the creative fruit of someone’s labors and paying them nothing for it is unethical, immoral, and simply un-American. It simply has to stop, and I applaud Congressman Conyers for once again leading the fight on behalf of legacy artists in Detroit’s musical community and all around our country,” said Reeves.
The “Respecting Senior Performers as Essential Cultural Treasures Act,” H.R. ____ , clarifies that any music service relying on the statutory license for digital transmissions must pay royalties for all the music they use – regardless of when it was recorded.
Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) alongside fellow Detroiter Martha Reeves of Martha and the Vandellas.