AFTRA, Musicians Union Raise Concerns About SiriusXM

The labor groups say the satellite radio company’s idea is “blatantly anti-artist and anti-union”

Two labor groups say that satellite radio company SiriusXM is proposing a "blantantly anti-artist and anti-union" deal that would make it difficult for artists to recoup their royalties.

The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the American Federation of Musicians are asking their members to tell their labels they don't like the idea.

SiriusXM wants to implement what's called a "direct license" deal.

Under the current arrangement, SiriusXM pays the labels 50 percent of royalties, the independent organization SoundExchange 45 percent and the AFTRA/AFM intellectual property fund 5 percent. SoundExchange and the intellectual property fund then pay artists.

Under the "direct license" deal, Sirius XM would pay 100 percent of royalties to the labels. Artists who want royalties will then have to file a claim with the labels in order to be paid, according to AFTRA.

In a written statement, AFM president Ray Hair said that "the race by SiriusXM and independent record labels to grab performer copyright royalties hurts the music industry, it erodes the value of music industry-wide, where no one — artists, musicians or record companies — can earn a fair living creating and investing in the music everyone wants to hear."

Hair and AFTRA national executive director Kim Roberts called on their respective members to express opposition to the "direct license" proposal.

SiriusXM did not return several emails and calls for comment.