Coronavirus

Record Industry Applauds $2 Trillion Stimulus: 'This Legislation Steps Up to Help Our Community'

US Capitol Building
Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A general view of The US Capitol Building on Jan. 21, 2020 Washington, D.C.

With more than 3 million people filing for unemployment last week due to business closures tied to the Covid-19 pandemic, the United States Senate voted last night to pass Phase III of the stimulus package, which includes a component to aid abruptly unemployed Americans.

"We applaud Leaders McConnell and Schumer, Secretary Mnuchin, and all Members of the Senate and the Administration who worked to include direct financial aid to Americans in need in the stimulus package the Senate passed today," Recording Industry Association of America chairman and CEO Mitch Glazier said in a statement. "The music community always steps up to help Americans get through trying times and circumstances, and this legislation steps up to help our community face unique circumstances during this national emergency."

The 3.2 million filers breaks a 1982 one-week record for filings of 695,000, the U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday morning.

"We are grateful that the stimulus package contains emergency access to unemployment insurance for those who cannot work due to a canceled performance or a production shut down," Glazier continues. "Access to this expanded unemployment insurance will ensure that hundreds of thousands of musicians' families across the country can continue to pay rent, put food on the table, and care for their children during this public health crisis."

The stimulus bill also includes wording that makes it easier for music industry workers, who often act as independent contractors and sole proprietors, to obtain loans. Another provision provides more funding for the National Endowment of the Arts to give grants to arts organizations that provide relief to musicians, according to the RIAA.

"We also applaud the provision that provides more funding for the National Endowment of the Arts to give grants to arts organizations that provide relief to musicians," Glazier adds. "We know the power of music will help us get through this crisis, but we also know that economic pain will continue to cut even deeper in the weeks and months ahead. We look forward to working with the House to get this relief across the finish line as quickly as possible."

Other organizations heaped praise on Congress as well. “ASCAP applauds the Senate for unanimously passing significant relief that aids the creative community and millions of other Americans during this difficult and uncertain time," ASCAP president and chairman Paul Williams said in a statement. “Songwriters are some of America's most-treasured small business owners, and it's imperative that we continue to support and assist independent contractors and self-employed musicians whose lives and income have been upended by this pandemic. We look forward to this bill passing the House and being signed by the President. We are all in this together, and ASCAP will continue to do everything in our power to ensure that music creators can weather this storm.”

The Music Artists Coalition, which was one of 35 organizations that sent an entertainment stimulus letter to Congressional leaders on March 20 in an effort to ensure that essential wording like "sole proprietor" and "independent contractor" were included in the bill, employed a social media campaign to garner support for the legislation that saw artists including Anderson .Paak, The Doobie Brothers, Diplo, Lil Jon, Kings of Leon, Major Lazer and Stone Temple Pilots tagging House and Senate committee leaders in their posts, the organization tells Billboard. In addition, MAC says it is working with employment and government groups in individual states so that music workers have a clear path to maximum unemployment insurance, which the bill offers enhanced funding for.

“MAC thanks all the music creators, other artist advocacy groups and, most of all, our friends on Capitol Hill who worked hard to make sure the music folks were not forgotten," MAC president Jack Quinn said in a statement. "Part of MAC's mission is to guide people through the process of getting relief from the stimulus bill."


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