Yesterday the House Judicial Committee held a hearing on music licensing related to the proposed Internet Radio Fairness Act. A good summary of the bill is that internet radio giant Pandora (and others that are similar) are arguing against the royalty rate disparity for internet radio versus satellite and cable. Internet radio pays higher statutory rates to performers than satellite and cable. Evenmore so, traditional terrestrial radio does not pay any royalty rates to performers on sound recordings (they only pay royalties to the song writers). The main focus of the hearings was supposed to be on the disparity between peformer royalty rates, yet according to this article the conversation quickly turned to questions about why traditional radio still does not pay any royalties to performers.
This is a debate that has gone back many years, as performers only first started to earn statutory public performance royalties with the introduction of the Digitial Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA). Even with the DMCA, performance royalties are only statutory for non-traditional radio broadcasts, with a focus on internet radio and satellite radio.