Garth Brooks isn’t afraid to get political. Just look at the stance he took on gay rights in the 1980s with his social justice album, “We Shall Be Free.” And he has always had solidified thoughts about streaming music, which is why you won’t find him on iTunes. So it’s no surprise that he got behind new legislation that seeks to reimburse classic artists whose songs get airplayed. Brooks, along with legacy rock artists including Neil Young and Tina Turner, put their names on the CLASSICS Act, and it looks like it just may become law.
CLASSICS stands for Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, & Important Contributions to Society. According to Billboard, the bill “would require digital services to pay both rightsholders and artists for the use of recordings made before 1972.” The House and the Senate have both introduced a version of the bill, which gives hope that it will become law.
The issue is that songs recorded prior to 1972 are streamed for free, thanks to a weird loophole in federal copyright law.
According to the law, radio stations have to pay to use songs regardless of when the artist released the songs. But digital music services (like Pandora and SiriusXM) only have to pay to use songs released after 1972. That means that those artists aren’t reimbursed for earlier work. And with the growing popularity of streaming services, that is a lot of lost revenue.
Garth Brooks Makes Political Stand
More than 200 recording artists signed a petition requesting the CLASSICS Act be passed. Garth Brooks was among them. The petition the artists produced gave the following argument:
“Digital radio makes billions of dollars a year from airplay of music made before 1972. Yet, because of an ambiguity in state and federal copyright laws, artists and copyright owners who created that music receive nothing for the use of their work. The ‘CLASSICS Act’ would correct this inequity and finally ensure that musicians and vocalists who made those timeless songs finally get their due. We urge Congress to pass the CLASSICS Act and other pro-artist reforms quickly.”
Little happens quickly in government, so doubtful if the process will be expeditious. But it does look hopeful. And if it does, Garth Brooks has another political win on his side.