May 07, 2014

Award-Winning Songwriters Call for Music Licensing Reform in ASCAP "Stand with Songwriters" Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill

Carly Simon, Randy Newman, Valerie Simpson and others ask Congress to support meaningful updates to laws governing songwriter compensation, including Songwriter Equity Act

Washington, DC, May 7, 2014: Today, several award-winning songwriters and composers from different music genres spent the day meeting with elected officials to press for music licensing reform as part of the inaugural American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP) “Stand with Songwriters” Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill.


ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams, Carly Simon (“You’re So Vain”), Randy Newman (“You’ve Got a Friend in Me”), Josh Kear (“Need You Now”), Alan and Marilyn Bergman (“The Way We Were”), Jon Batiste (“Creative”), Narada Michael Walden (“Freeway of Love”), Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart (“Crazy on You”) and ASCAP Vice Chairman Jimmy Webb (“Wichita Lineman”) came to D.C. to perform at a Tuesday night “We Write the Songs” concert at the Library of Congress, sponsored by The ASCAP Foundation. During the concert, 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. today to walk the halls of Congress.

“Technology is creating incredible opportunities but also tremendous challenges for songwriters,” said award-winning songwriter Carly Simon, adding, “Our work is being heard by more people in more places than ever before, but many songwriters are finding it harder to earn a living because the laws that regulate public performance licensing of musical works haven’t kept pace with innovation.” Simon continued: “I’m proud to advocate for reasonable reforms that are vital to the next generation of American songwriters, and my hope is that policymakers will consider these important issues thoughtfully so the nation continues to benefit from a vibrant and healthy music industry.”

Urge Congress to act

In their meetings on the Hill, the songwriters urged Members of Congress to support the Songwriter Equity Act, a bipartisan bill to amend two outdated portions of the US Copyright Act and level the playing field for songwriters, composers and publishers seeking fair compensation for their work. They 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.

“The rules and regulations that govern how we do business are outdated and don’t work in today’s evolving music marketplace,” said ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams. “If we’re going to preserve America’s ability to create and export the world’s greatest music, we have to modernize the music licensing system in a way that allows songwriters and composers to thrive alongside the businesses that revolve around our music.”

In meetings with policymakers, Williams and other songwriters described ASCAP’s Music Advocacy Project, or “MAP,” which presents five core principles to guide music licensing reform:

  • SIMPLIFICATION: The music licensing process must be simplified, streamlined and reflective of how people listen to music today.
  • MARKET RATES: The free market should determine the value of music copyrights, just as it does in other entertainment sectors.
  • CONSUMER CHOICE: Music fans should continue to have access to a wide variety of music on any platform they choose.
  • CREATOR CONTROL: Music starts with the songwriter or composer, and the interests of music creators should be central to any effort to reform copyright laws. 
  • ACCESS: We must preserve a robust collective licensing system in order to keep the music playing, ensure music creators are fairly compensated for use of their work, and enable new music businesses to launch efficiently and legally.

For more information about ASCAP's Music Advocacy Project (MAP), click here.

To join ASCAP and the many award-winning songwriters send a message to Congress, visit And help ASCAP spread the word by retweeting #StandWithSongwriters below.

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 700,000 members representing more than 11.5 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. 

# # #

Media Contacts:
Lauren Iossa

Audrey Cooling