@ascap #StandWithSongwriters to Meet with Congress on Rolling Back Government Regulation of Songwriters

[Editor Charlie sez: Remember when the government set the price of mechanical royalties at $0.02 in 1909 and “forgot” to raise it until 1978?  And then–in 1978–started giving songwriters  increases based on inflation (Consumer Price Index) with no compensation for the government’s past mistakes?  Gee, thanks government.  If they’d given inflation adjustments in 1909, minimum statutory would be at least $0.50.  And then they froze the $0.091 minimum statutory rate again in 2009 when inflation has been about 14% since then.  Gee, thanks again government.  And why do they call it “minimum” statutory rate as if anyone is getting paid more than statutory when the reality is songwriters almost always get paid less than statutory?  Big thank you to ASCAP and the songwriter delegation, you can tweet support to #standwithsongwriters!]

SONGWRITERS TO CALL FOR REFORMS TO OUTDATED MUSIC LICENSING REGULATIONS DURING ASCAP “STAND WITH SONGWRITERS” ADVOCACY DAY ON APRIL 26

Paul Williams, Peter Frampton, Rob Thomas, Eric Bazilian, Rob Hyman, Ledisi, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis and other award-winning American songwriters ask Congress to support updates for the modern music economy

WASHINGTON, DC—APRIL 25, 2016— Joining together as some of the most heavily-regulated small business owners in the country to fight for vital reforms to decades-old federal music licensing regulations, award-winning songwriters and composers from various music genres will be in Washington, DC tomorrow, April 26, to meet with elected officials as part of the annual American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP) “Stand with Songwriters” Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill.

“Songwriters are the foundation of this nation’s thriving music industry. But even though our music is being used more and more, it seems to be valued less and less, thanks to antiquated regulations. In fact, it takes one million streams of a song across the top music streaming services for a songwriter to earn about $170 on average. Even people who write hit songs are struggling to get by in this new music economy,” said ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams, an Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe-winning songwriter. “The fact is U.S. music licensing regulations are out of step with how people consume music today, and with how the rest of the world works. If millions of people around the world are streaming your song, you should be fairly compensated for it.”

Today, three-fourths of U.S. songwriter income streams are subject to regulation by the federal government, hindering songwriters’ ability to negotiate fair market rates for their work. This is unlike any other creative industry, including books, television, film, video games and art, where the free market decides the value of copyrighted works. In their meetings on Capitol Hill, ASCAP members will discuss these and other challenges facing songwriters in the digital music age and urge policymakers from across the political spectrum to update the outdated and overreaching federal regulations that govern how songwriters collectively license their work.

When it comes to specific legislative reforms, ASCAP members will emphasize the need for periodic review of ASCAP’s 76-year-old antitrust consent decree with the Department of Justice to ensure it encourages, rather than hinders, more vigorous competition in the marketplace. They will also underscore the critical importance of improving the outdated and inefficient rate court system with a faster, less expensive process for dispute-resolution and rate-setting.

The meetings will follow tonight’s “We Write the Songs” concert at the Library of Congress, sponsored by The ASCAP Foundation. The event features performances by popular ASCAP members who will be introduced by Members of Congress, including: Peter Frampton & Gordon Kennedy (“Baby I Love Your Way” & “Change the World”); Rob Thomas (of Matchbox Twenty) (“Smooth”); Eric Bazilian & Rob Hyman (of The Hooters) (“One of Us” & “Time After Time”); Ledisi (“Pieces of Me”); Raul Midón (“Keep on Hoping”); and ASCAP Foundation Award-winning young jazz composer, singer and musician Camille Thurman.

The delegation of ASCAP members participating in tomorrow’s Congressional office visits will include: Paul Williams, Peter Frampton, Rob Thomas, Eric Bazilian, Rob Hyman, Ledisi, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.

 

@impaulwilliams: Letter to ASCAP Members from Paul Williams on DOJ’s Unilateral Ruling Against Songwriters Around the World

Dear ASCAP Member,

Today, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) released its official public statement regarding its review of the 75-year-old ASCAP and BMI consent decrees, which govern how songwriters and other music creators collectively license their work for public performance.

Unfortunately, rather than updating the antiquated framework of laws that govern how songwriters license their work and tackling some of the biggest challenges facing the music industry, the DOJ chose to avoid a solution at this time and maintain the current decrees. The DOJ also announced that it plans to upend decades of industry practice by imposing new “full work” or “100% licensing” requirements on the PROs, despite very public opposition to this proposal.

ASCAP and BMI believe that the DOJ got this wrong, and we will not rest in our mission to fix the problems the DOJ decided not to solve. ASCAP and BMI together are pursuing a joint strategy to overturn the DOJ’s decision and modernize the outdated consent decree system. As part of this joint effort to generate change on two major fronts, ASCAP will lead the push for legislation in Congress to address the outdated consent decrees in favor of legislative solutions that make sense for the future of American music and BMI will challenge the DOJ’s decision on 100% licensing in federal rate court.  ASCAP and BMI are in full support of one another’s efforts.

More than a million American songwriters, composers and music publishers, like you, depend on collective licensing through ASCAP and BMI to earn a living. As an organization of music creators, we believe in a level playing field for all songwriters and composers, whether they are members of ASCAP or not. The DOJ decision requiring 100% licensing will create challenges for all music creators, whether they are represented by ASCAP, BMI, or by one of the smaller performing rights organizations.

Fixing this will be a long process, however, so I urge you to stay with us. ASCAP has strength in numbers. When we stick together and speak in a strong, united voice, we make an impact. We will need everyone to step up, stay focused and take action.

ASCAP is going to keep fighting on your behalf for the reforms songwriters need in order to succeed now and in the future. In fact, the DOJ opened the door for us to do just that.

In its public statement, the government clearly acknowledges that the PROs provide an invaluable service in the marketplace and that the consent decree system is not  working as well as it could.

The DOJ also conceded that a real, long-term resolution of the challenges songwriters face may require Congressional action. We wholeheartedly agree.

Fortunately, ASCAP has been working closely with other music industry stakeholders for some time to educate key members of Congress in both the House and the Senate about the unique challenges faced by music creators in the new music economy, and we already have a strong base of support in both parties. We will work closely with our allies to develop the framework for legislative proposals to be introduced in the next Congress.

We will have much more to share with you in the coming days, and we will let you know how you can help. ASCAP is proud to stand with songwriters and all music creators on the frontlines as we push for changes that will move our laws, our organization and our entire industry forward.

Sincerely,

Paul Williams

@impaulwilliams: A Message from ASCAP President Paul Williams to Members About the DOJ’s 100% Licensing Proposal

Fellow ASCAP members:

As a songwriter, words are my bread and butter. But I’ve spent the past week struggling to find the right words to express how disappointed I am by ASCAP’s recent meeting with the US Department of Justice regarding our consent decree.

I know many of you share my frustration with this process. Songwriters have been disadvantaged in the marketplace by a regulatory structure that was conceived in a very different era. We went to the DOJ seeking their help to update the consent decrees.  Instead of making the necessary modifications, we have been saddled with a disruptive proposal that ignores songwriters’ concerns for our future livelihoods in a streaming world, serves absolutely no public interest and creates confusion and instability for all of us who depend on the efficiencies of collective licensing.

This, even after thousands of you provided comments to the DOJ on your perspectives as professional music creators. It is as if the DOJ saw songwriters struggling to stay afloat in a sea of outdated regulations and decided to hand us an anchor, in the form of 100% licensing, instead of a life preserver.

I am so grateful to those of you who generously and fearlessly gave of your time and participated in this process. I know you must feel like your voices were not heard. But I am telling you, it has made a difference.

This process and this fight are far from over. Rest assured, because so many of you were willing to take a stand on these issues, we have gained important allies in Washington who are committed to standing with songwriters.

ASCAP and BMI are continuing our discussions with the DOJ about our consent decrees. ASCAP is also working closely with BMI and the entire songwriting and publishing community as we evaluate all of our options and carefully consider the best path forward. We have a team of legal experts, effective advocates in DC, an incredibly strong management team under the direction of our CEO Beth Matthews, and, of course, the guidance of your dedicated elected writers and publishers on the ASCAP Board.

As we continue to work to modernize music licensing, we must remember what has sustained ASCAP and set us apart for more than 100 years. We are a non-for-profit collective of music creators – an organization owned and run by our members. Everything we do is in the best interests of our songwriter, composer and music publisher members. That has always been our strength and that will be our strength going forward.

Sticking together as music creators, ASCAP has managed seemingly insurmountable challenges in the past. And we’ve withstood them all, preserving our rights and our livelihoods while moving the industry forward in the process.

There is no doubt in my mind that when we look back on this chapter in our history, we will be able to say that we did it once again.

In the meantime, we are working closely with our allies in DC. I give you my word that we will keep you informed as the process moves forward. I know many of you are eager to know what you can do, and we will have more to share on that front very soon. We know we can count on you to stand with ASCAP and stand with songwriters.

Yours in solidarity,

Paul

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