Country artists win US radio royalties deal

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Taylor SwiftImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
Taylor Swift is among the artists signed to the Big Machine label

US radio giant Clear Channel has struck a ground-breaking deal with a Nashville record label that will see performers paid for FM airplay for the first time.

Musicians and labels do not currently get paid by terrestrial US stations for their recordings - a source of tension between the two sides for decades.

But Clear Channel, which owns 850 stations, will now pay the Big Machine label and the performers on its tracks.

Taylor Swift and Tim McGraw are among artists who will benefit from the deal.

In exchange, artists have agreed to a cap on payments from tracks played on digital stations.

"We're going to more than double our income from Clear Channel in the short term," said Big Machine chief executive Scott Borchetta.

"They'll make it up on the back end as digital continues to grow."

Clear Channel chief executive Bob Pittman called the deal "an opportunity... to align our interests in all of our revenue streams and grow digital listening to its full potential".

Songwriters and song publishers currently receive royalties when their compositions are played on US terrestrial radio, but there is no equivalent law requiring a fee to be paid to labels and performers for their recordings.

They are paid for online usage, however, placing a heavier financial onus on digital radio platforms than their terrestrial counterparts.

Rather than compensating artists every time a song is played, the Clear Channel agreement will pay them a share of advertising revenue generated across all platforms.

Clear Channel is the largest radio group in the United States and a major influence on broadcasting practice.

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