May 27, 2014

Atlanta Songwriters Urge Congress to Update Music Licensing Regulations at ASCAP Forum

Grammy-winner NE-YO hosts roundtable discussion with U.S. Representatives Doug Collins (R-GA) and Hank Johnson (D-GA) as Congress considers bipartisan legislation to encourage fair compensation for songwriters

Atlanta, GA, May 27, 2014: Today, three-time Grammy Award-winning songwriter, producer, recording artist and actor NE-YO hosted a #StandWithSongwriters forum with other Atlanta-based songwriters at The Capital Grille to discuss the importance of modernizing federal music licensing regulations to keep up with innovation in the marketplace. The event, organized by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), featured two Georgia members of Congress: Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), a member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee and the lead sponsor of the “Songwriter Equity Act” recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives; and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), a member of the House Judiciary Committee and Ranking Member of the Antitrust Subcommittee.

“I want to thank Rep. Collins and Rep. Johnson for joining us for this important discussion,” said NE-YO, a longtime ASCAP member, in his opening remarks. He added: “Outdated laws are making it harder for songwriters to make a living today, even as our music is more in demand than ever. We’re happy to engage with leaders who recognize that the system is out of balance and needs to be fixed. They understand that their actions can make a real difference in the lives of tens of thousands of songwriters and composers who call the state of Georgia home.”

With more than 45,000 songwriters and composers based in Georgia, much of the afternoon’s discussion focused on the Songwriter Equity Act introduced in February by Rep. Collins, who represents Georgia’s 9th Congressional District. The bill, which would amend Sections 114i and 115 of the US Copyright Act, has 19 bipartisan co-sponsors in the House, and similar legislation was recently introduced in the U.S. Senate. Specifically, it would allow federal “rate courts” to consider music royalty rates negotiated in the free market as evidence when establishing digital performance licensing rates for songwriters and would implement a fair market rate for licenses to make CDs or download music, another essential income stream for music writers and publishers.

Explaining why he introduced the Songwriter Equity Act, Rep. Collins said: “The current federal regulatory system is standing in the way of American songwriters receiving fair market royalty rates for their work. I believe songwriters, especially those just starting out, deserve a compensation system that recognizes the realities of the digital age. And I’m glad to see many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle agree.”

“We must be mindful of the unique challenges facing songwriters as we look to reform our nation’s copyright laws,” said Rep. Johnson, who represents Georgia’s 4th District, adding, “I’m grateful for the opportunity to hear about these issues from Georgia music creators firsthand.”

Other ASCAP members attending the event included: Needlz, Crystal Nicole, Monica, Manuel Seal, Rock City, Patrick Hayes (a.k.a. Guitar Boy), Johntá Austin and others.

NE-YO summed up his thoughts by saying, “The bottom line is we need Congress to pass the Songwriter Equity Act in order to ensure the next generation of great American songwriters is able to make a living creating the music we all love to hear.”

For more about ASCAP’s efforts to advance meaningful music licensing reform, click here.

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 Contact
Lauren Iossa, ASCAP