Hardworking artists “cannot pay the rent with exposure” Gloria Estefan has told a US House Judiciary Committee at a session discussing a new bill on music royalties.
The Conga singer told committee members each individual song was “a labour of love” as she presented arguments in favour of proper compensation for recording artists.
The American Music Fairness Act aims to ensure that royalties are paid to performers or recorded-music copyright owners of songs when the material is played on US terrestrial radio.
Speaking on behalf of “hundreds and thousands” of American music creators, Ms Estefan said: “Music speaks to the soul, it evokes emotion, it inspires, it brings us solace in challenging times and…it is the soundtrack to our lives.
“Each of the songs that are precious to you is a labour of love for the song-writer, the artists, musicians, and producers that brought it to life.
“They poured their own hearts and souls into its creation, but when their music gets played on the radio, artists don’t get paid, only the songwriters do.
“While I’m the one testifying before you today I represent hundreds of thousands of Americans who endeavour to make a living making music. Each of us has passion, talent and drive.”
She continued: “You know these artists, they are your family, your friends and neighbours. They sacrifice so much to pursue their passion for music – often having to take on multiple jobs to pay the bills
“The American Music Fairness Act is for them. For so many American music creators, life has become dire since the start of the pandemic.
“These hard working Americans cannot pay the rent with the exposure offered to them by broadcast companies.
“It simply does not make sense that artists are not being paid when their music is played on one specific platform, AM/FM radio.”
The American Music Fairness Act bill was introduced to the US Congress in June of last year by Ted Deutch and Darrell Issa.
Songwriters are currently paid royalties on radio but other parties are not, unlike on streaming sites.
Broadcast radio is the only industry in America that can use another person’s intellectual property without their permission or compensation, Ms Estefan told the committee.
The Cuban-American superstar, whose career spans over four decades, is the recipient of eight Grammy awards, the Ellis Island Medal of Honour and the Presidential Medal Of Freedom.
The story of the singer’s life and career was made into the hit musical On Your Feet! which was performed on the West End from June to August 2019.
Her remarks to the committee come as the chairman of The Ivors Academy, Tom Gray, called for “major reform” so musicians are treated with “dignity and respect”.