#IRespectMusic campaign aims to bring money back to musicians

Blake Morgan started the #IRespectMusic campaign to help musicians get paid for their songs being played on the radio.

Blake Morgan started the #IRespectMusic campaign to help musicians get paid for their songs being played on the radio.

By Morgan Culhane

Musician Blake Morgan launched the #IRespectMusic campaign in January with what he thought was an ambitious goal, getting 1,000 signatures in a month.

A few months later, the campaign has well over 10,000 signatures and many celebrities and well-known musicians have gotten on board the campaign, which is urging Congress to have artists get paid when their songs are played on broadcast radio. Currently, the United States is the only democratic country in the world that doesn’t pay artists for radio airplay. Countries with this same policy include Iran, North Korea, China, Vietnam and Rwanda.

The campaign took off with an Instagram video Blake made with the hashtag “I respect music.” Thousands of other people made their own videos or photos with the hashtag including actor Patrick Stewart and author and activist Gloria Steinem.

“Advocate for artists. Music matters,” Stewart tweeted.

“Artists’ rights are human rights. Please sign this petition,” Steinem tweeted.

Congress currently requires satellite and Internet radio to pay artists, but not broadcast radio.

The goal is for Congress to create a new piece of legislation that would mandate paying artists for their work.

But the issue goes deeper than just paying artists for their work. The larger issue at play is how not paying them affects how the music profession is viewed.

The IRS reported this year, that 46 percent fewer people put down musician as their profession than they did 10 years ago.

“We are facing the demise of our profession,” Blake said. “We should have the right to expect from this what other professions do. This isn’t a hobby, it’s our profession.”

Current policies are putting musicians out of work and discouraging others from even pursuing the music industry in the first place. Blake believes people wouldn’t so readily crush the dream of people who want to be musicians if it was a little more financially viable to be one.

Plus paying musicians could have a positive impact on the U.S. economy as a whole. Currently, countries overseas don’t pay American artists for radio play either, since their artists don’t get paid in America. If the bill was passed, billions of dollars would come back into the United States since art is one of the country’s biggest exports.

“It’s one of the few things the U.S. makes that the world still wants,” Blake said.

The viral nature of the campaign has been surprising even to Blake. When he was hoping for 1,000 signatures in one month, he knew he was being daring. #IRespectMusic is a genuine grassroots movement without large amounts of funding, not a huge demand and without active promotion or lecturing about the cause.

“If you say I respect music, then pay musicians for their work,” Blake said.
For more information about the campaign visit www.irespectmusic.org.

Morgan Culhane is a recent graduate of Canisius College.

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