AFM International President Thomas F. Lee To Congress: ‘Musicians And Singers Must Be Compensated For Webcasts’
Thomas F. Lee, international president of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFM), AFL-CIO, told a Congressional hearing that those most affected by the internet royalty rates set last March by the Copyright Royalty Board are the thousands of recording artists, session musicians and background vocalists that are struggling to make a living.
"Their needs should not be forgotten, because if the difficulties they face make life as a creator unendurable, there won't be any music for the new music services to bring to the public, or to build their own small businesses around," Lee said. "Professional musicians know just how dangerous it is to believe that all music should be available practically for free," Lee continued. "There must be compensation systems in place that are sufficient to support musicians, if we really want to foster music in our culture."
The AFM fought for the digital performance right because "we believe that performers should benefit whenever others make use of our work to build businesses," Lee said, but that doesn't mean the AFM does not support the truly small and noncommercial webcasters, to the extent that they are attempting to bring greater diversity to consumers and to provide new outlets for terrific musicians who are outside of the mainstream.
"The AFM supports SoundExchange's efforts to reach an appropriate business accommodation with such services that will allow them to develop working business models, while still making payments to performers," Lee noted.
Also testifying on behalf of the AFM was Grammy-award winning recording and performing artist Cathy Fink, who told the hearing that "the creation of a sound recording takes a huge investment of time, talent and energy. Like any other entrepreneurs, we are making financial investments. We think of ourselves as a small business, and one about which we are extremely passionate. Our music is a valuable creation, and it is the core of that business. Like any other product, it deserves fair compensation." Fink is a member of AFM Local 1000.
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