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Billy Corgan wants broadcast radio to pay performers

Smashing Pumpkins founder tells Congress that broadcast radio stations should share the money they're making on songs with performers. Internet radio already has to.

Billy Corgan, founder of the band Smashing Pumpkins, speaks before Congress.

Update 3:29 p.m. PDT: Added quotes from the National Association of Broadcasters.

Internet radio has to pay performance rights but broadcast stations get a free pass.

Billy Corgan, founder of the rock band Smashing Pumpkins, told Congress on Tuesday that must change.

"This issue is one of fundamental fairness," Corgan told lawmakers. "If the performance of a song has value to a particular terrestrial radio station in its airing, I believe it is only right to compensate those performers who have created this work.

"Simply put, if a station plays a song, both the author and the performer should be paid," he continued. "These particular performances must have value to the stations or they wouldn't be playing them."

Corgan was testifying on behalf of the Performance Rights Act, which "would close a loophole in copyright law that allows music radio stations to earn billions every year without compensating the artists and musicians," according to a statement from the legislation's backers.

The National Association of Broadcasters does compensate songwriters and music publishers and has for decades. It does not, however, pay record labels or the artists. The thinking has always been that free airplay promotes the sale of music which benefits those groups.

"We think this performance tax would decimate the radio business," said Dennis Wharton, an NAB spokesman. "The reality is record labels have used artists as a shield in this debate. We welcome a discussion on who has been more fair to artists: The foreign-owned record labels (Universal Music, Sony and EMI) or America's hometown radio broadcasters."

Web radio stations have complained for a long time that they are made to pay performance fees, when traditional broadcasters pay nothing. It should be noted that online services have said they believe in compensating music performers.