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Music Community Marks 30thAnniversary of Frank Sinatra’s Call for a “Terrestrial Performance Right”


Prominent members of the music are using today’s 30th anniversary of Frank Sinatra’s letter to fellow music creators to renew the call for a terrestrial performance right for recordings that are played on AM/FM radio so that performers are treated more fairly.

In words that still ring true today, Frank Sinatra penned letters to two dozen of the best-known artists of the day–Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and Bruce Springsteen among them–on December 12, 1988. In the letters, Sinatra urged building “a unified effort from fellow recording artists” to get Congress to pass legislation so that artists receive royalties when their work is broadcast on FM/AM radio.

musicFIRST and other advocates for fair payment for music creators are marking today’s anniversary by calling on a new generation of artist leaders to assume Frank Sinatra’s mantle and fight for fair payment for all music creators in the United States and to make 2019 the year it becomes a reality.

In an op-ed entitled “Time to Honor Frank Sinatra’s Call for Radio Fairness” published in Billboard, SoundExchange CEO Michael Huppe points out that “broadcasters’ free ride on the backs of artists wasn’t fair in 1988. And it’s even more unfair today as FM radio competes for free with streaming services that rightly pay artists for their work.”

Huppe goes onto say that “efforts by the music industry to find a common ground of “fairness” with the broadcasters have thus far failed. That is why we need to heed Sinatra’s call to organize and demand that Congress pass legislation to give creators royalties when their music is played on terrestrial radio.”

In 2018, Congress worked with music creators to craft and pass the Music Modernization Act. The historic piece of legislation ensures that artists from all generations will be paid more fairly when their music is played on all platforms, except AM/FM radio.

“The lack of a terrestrial performance right is a historical injustice and one that has gone on for far too long,” said Dr. Richard James Burgess, CEO of American Association of Independent Music (A2IM). “With the passage of the Music Modernization Act, 2018 has proven that when the music industry unites for a cause, lasting change can occur. Music creators are proud to stand with Frank Sinatra and those artists and their estates that deserve fair compensation. Together we will fight for Frank’s vision of a terrestrial performance right and a better environment for music creators well into the future.”

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