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April 10, 2014

Let's Modernize the System

Paul Williams

ASCAP President Paul Williams

Technology is creating amazing opportunities for music to reach new audiences. But it’s also creating real challenges when it comes to licensing our work. That’s because the rules and regulations that govern how we do business haven’t kept pace with this evolving ecosystem. I firmly believe America’s ability to continue creating and exporting the world’s greatest music depends on all of us working together to modernize the music licensing system in a way that allows songwriters and composers to thrive alongside businesses that revolve around our music.

Our livelihoods depend on the income we earn from licensing public performances and reproductions of our works. And that’s why ASCAP is so appreciative of the Songwriter Equity Act (H.R. 4079) recently introduced by Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) and initially co-sponsored by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (DNY) and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). It seeks to remove one of the artificial barriers that is keeping songwriter compensation below fair market rates and creating a dramatic disparity in the compensation earned by music copyright holders.

Now, when we find ourselves in rate court, as we did most recently with Pandora, this bill will enable ASCAP to present sound recording royalty rates as evidence for the court to consider as relevant market benchmarks when setting royalty rates for public performances of musical works. It is a simple and reasonable fix – but one which will begin the process of modernizing the copyright law to the benef it of all stakeholders. This year, ASCAP is proud to celebrate its 100th birthday. More than 500,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers depend on us to negotiate licenses, monitor public performances, distribute royalties and advocate on their behalf. And ASCAP’s collective licensing model continues to be the most effective, eff icient and compelling way to serve the needs of all the stakeholders in the music marketplace. It allows us to provide music users with blanket licenses at reasonable rates, while ensuring that songwriters, composers and music publishers are fairly compensated for their work. And it ensures that billions of people have access to the music they love.

It is our mission to ensure that every generation of songwriters and composers know that they will receive the full value of their work; that they’ll be paid in a fair, objective, transparent way; and that they’ll retain control of their music. We hope you’ll join us in this effort by visiting ascap.com/advocacy. Working together with other stakeholders, I am confident that we can create a modern music licensing system that serves the needs of everyone and ensures a strong future for American music.

Best Wishes,

Paul Williams