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Business News (more headlines) 05-16-2014

Senators Announce Upcoming Introduction Of Songwriter Equity Act To More Fairly Compensate Music Creators

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In a special media event held at Nashville's famed Bluebird Cafe, Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Bob Corker (R-TN) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) announced the upcoming introduction of the Senate version of the Songwriter Equity Act, a bipartisan bill to amend two outdated portions of the U.S. Copyright Act and level the playing field for songwriters, composers and publishers seeking fair compensation for their work. The legislation would allow a "rate court" to consider other royalty rates as evidence when establishing digital performance rates for songwriters and composers, and it would adapt a fair rate standard for reproduction (mechanical licenses). The House version of the Songwriter Equity Act, H.R. 4079, was introduced by Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) in February.

ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams remarked: "American music is the most popular music in the world. The men and women who create it deserve to earn fair payment for their craft. The time has come to modernize the music licensing system in a way that allows them to thrive alongside the businesses that revolve around their music. Senators Alexander, Corker and Hatch should be commended for introducing the Songwriter Equity Act. In joining Representative Doug Collins in this effort, they have proven themselves to be true champions of music creators."

ASCAP award-winning songwriter Rivers Rutherford ("When I Get Where I'm Going," "Ain't Nothing 'Bout You" and "Real Good Man"), who performed his hit song "Real Good Man" at this morning's event, commented: "The irony of the digital age is it's getting harder and harder to make a living as a songwriter, even though our music is being heard by more people in more places than ever before. Songwriters today aren't being fairly compensated for our work, but this bill would help level the playing field at a time when we really need it."

Recently, award-winning ASCAP songwriters and composers from different music genres, including Nashville's Josh Kear ("Need You Now," "Blown Away"), met with elected officials in Washington, D.C., to press for music licensing reform as part of the inaugural ASCAP "Stand with Songwriters" Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill.

On Tuesday, May 6th, Kear, along with ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams, ASCAP Vice Chairman Jimmy Webb ("Wichita Lineman"), Carly Simon ("You're So Vain"), Randy Newman ("You've Got a Friend in Me"), Alan and Marilyn Bergman ("The Way We Were"), Jon Batiste ("Creative"), Narada Michael Walden ("Freeway of Love") and Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart ("Crazy on You") performed at "We Write the Songs," a special concert held at the Library of Congress and sponsored by The ASCAP Foundation. During the performance, they discussed the unique challenges facing songwriters in today's digital music marketplace and urged policymakers to support meaningful updates to federal laws that regulate how songwriters license their works.

Joined by ASCAP Board members, including Valerie Simpson ("Ain't No Mountain High Enough"), most of the performing songwriters remained in D.C. to walk the halls of Congress on Wednesday, May 7th. In their meetings on the Hill, the songwriters urged Members of Congress to support the Songwriter Equity Act and also emphasized the importance of updating ASCAP's consent decree, which was originally created in 1941 and last updated in 2001, before the introduction of the iPod.

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