NPR Story
12:01 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Rosanne Cash Speaks Out On Music Licensing

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 1:49 pm

Rosanne Cash, musician and daughter of country music legend Johnny Cash, is urging Congress to do more to protect intellectual property rights in the digital age.

She testified before a House Judiciary subcommittee yesterday in support of the Respect Act, which would compensate artists for digital performances of songs recorded before 1972. Right now, there is no federal copyright protection for those recordings.

She also spoke out in support of the Songwriter Equity Act, which she says would set up a fairer system for compensating songwriters when their work is used by others.

Cash tells Here & Now’s Robin Young, “one streaming service, they streamed 600,000 streams of one of my songs and I got paid $114.”

Interview Highlights

On the radio business model

“That argument about promotional value, ‘well you know, you get exposure by them playing you on the radio,’ it just doesn’t fly, because want control of our copyrights. There is no other business model that could take your property, use it to sell ads for themselves and make billions of dollars, and then say, ‘well, it’s okay because we’re giving you exposure by doing it.’ There’s no other model that exists for that except songs and radio.”

On digital streaming services

“That is one of the building blocks because the future is digital services. There are things that have to be addressed in digital services too … Records that were recorded before 1972, there’s no royalty paid to the artist for those songs. And these streaming sites, there aren’t fair rates set for how they pay artists for streaming their songs.”

On inequality in the music industry

“The generation that’s growing up thinks music should be free. I’m willing to have that conversation when artists aren’t the only ones who aren’t being paid for the music. Right now, a lot of corporations and multi-billion dollar companies make money off the music and the artists don’t see that money.”

Guest

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