February 25, 2014

Grammy-Winning Songwriters Urge Policymakers to Update Music Licensing Regulations for the Digital Age

New Library of Congress exhibit and "Copyright Matters" event held in celebration of 100th anniversary of ASCAP

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ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams and ASCAP Vice Chairman and Songwriters Hall of Fame President Jimmy Webb

Washington, DC, February 25, 2014: Songwriters, Members of Congress and music enthusiasts gathered today in the nation’s capital to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). The day kicked off with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new Library of Congress exhibit entitled, “ASCAP: One Hundred Years and Beyond,” hosted by Library of Congress Librarian, Dr. James Billington. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) and ASCAP board members Paul Williams, Jimmy Webb and Leeds Levy all participated as honored guests.

Later in the day, ASCAP President & Chairman Paul Williams (“Evergreen,” The Love Boat theme, “Rainbow Connection,” “We've Only Just Begun”) and Songwriter Hall of Fame President and ASCAP Vice-Chairman Jimmy Webb (“By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “MacArthur Park,” “Wichita Lineman,” “Up, Up and Away”) joined U.S. Register of Copyrights Maria A. Pallante for a “Copyright Matters” panel discussion in the Library of Congress Coolidge Auditorium, moderated by Dee Dee Myers, former White House Press Secretary and Managing Director at the Glover Park Group.

In her opening remarks, Pallante emphasized the importance of modernizing the music licensing system to better serve both copyright holders and music licensees, saying: “I believe the time has come to review the role of the consent decrees governing ASCAP and BMI and their impact on the music marketplace – to assess whether, in the digital era, they are facilitating or hindering a robust exchange of transactions.”

During the conversation, Williams echoed the need for reform. “Technology is changing the competitive landscape and creating amazing opportunities for music to reach new audiences,” said Williams, “but the laws that govern how we are compensated for the use of our music haven’t kept pace. We still operate under a 73-year old consent decree that hasn’t been updated since 2001 – before Apple introduced the iPod. That’s why ASCAP is working with stakeholders across the industry to reform the system.”

Webb emphasized that for a century, ASCAP has evolved to best serve music creators – and that it will continue to do so in the digital age. “The music industry has changed dramatically over the past 100 years, and it is changing now as more music moves toward streaming and other digital platforms. With each new innovation in technology, ASCAP has been there to help make sure any business that wants a music license is able to get one at a reasonable rate and that our members – the songwriters and composers, who form the foundation of the entire music ecosystem – are compensated fairly for their hard work and the value they create.”

Williams and Webb also performed several of their well-known hits for panel attendees and took questions from the audience.

Media Contact:
Lauren Iossa
ASCAP                     
(212) 621-6226                    
liossa@ascap.com

Will Nevius
Glover Park Group
(202) 295-0137
wnevius@gpgdc.com 

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About ASCAP
The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) is a professional membership organization of songwriters, composers and music publishers of every kind of music. ASCAP's mission is to license and promote the music of its members and foreign affiliates, obtain fair compensation for the public performance of their works and to distribute the royalties that it collects based upon those performances. ASCAP members write the world's best-loved music and ASCAP has pioneered the efficient licensing of that music to hundreds of thousands of enterprises who use it to add value to their business - from bars, restaurants and retail, to radio, TV and cable, to Internet, mobile services and more. The ASCAP license offers an efficient solution for businesses to legally perform ASCAP music while respecting the right of songwriters and composers to be paid fairly. With 625,000 members representing more than 10 million copyrighted works, ASCAP is the worldwide leader in performance royalties, service and advocacy for songwriters and composers, and the only American performing rights organization (PRO) owned and governed by its writer and publisher members. www.ascap.com