Coronavirus

Music Industry Leaders Press Congress For New Stimulus: 'Our Situation Is Dire'

United States Capitol Building in Washington DC
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United States Capitol Building in Washington DC

A group of leading music and film industry organizations sent a new letter to Congress today (May 8), explaining how the CARES Act economic stimulus bill falls short of the entertainment business' needs.

The letter -- which was signed by organizations including the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Music Artists Coalition (MAC) and Songwriters of North America (SONA) -- asks lawmakers for a new, updated CARES Act relief package.

"While we appreciate the efforts of lawmakers to meet the challenges of this pandemic, we need to ensure that our community is getting the aid they need to survive," the organizations wrote in a joint statement. "Musicians are struggling to access the basic financial resources available due to conflicting and burdensome requirements in relief programs. Simply, there is a hole in this safety net that Congress must fix in the next version of the CARES Act."

As the letter points out, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program (PUA) overlooks workers who have mixed income and report it on both W-2 and 1099 forms, making it difficult for those workers to report their annual income and receive the financial assistance they need.

The letter also states that while the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) allows payments to self-employed individuals, it imposes "overly burdensome and restrictive" eligibility criteria and requirements for those people to receive funds. Finally, it describes concerns about the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program for small businesses, which limits grants of up to $10,000 to only $1,000 per employee. "This means self-employed individuals who do not have employees are unfairly penalized," the letter reads, "even though they need immediate relief just as much as any other small businesses."

It's the latest in a string of letters to members of Congress from the music industry: Back in March, more than two dozen music and entertainment companies urged Congress to consider the entertainment business in relief plans, and late last month, top live promoters like AEG and Live Nation requested federal financial aid for the live entertainment business.

Today's letter ends on a somber note, driving home the point that while members of the music community have found creative ways to pay the bills for now, these methods are not sustainable.

"There is no sugarcoating this: the entire live entertainment industry has been decimated," the letter concludes. "We trade in imagination, but the reality of our situation is dire. Today, we eagerly share our craft when we can -- through video streams, on social media, or from apartment balconies. But it is not a viable 'work from home' solution and it will not sustain us.

"We need help that only you can provide, in a way that recognizes the particulars of our industry," the letter continues. "On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of us across the country, thank you for your understanding and your action."

View the full list of signatories, below.

Academy of Country Music (ACM)  
Actors’ Equity Association
Alliance for Recorded Music (ARM) 
American Association of Independent Music (A2IM)
American Federation of Musicians (AFM)
Americana Music Association
Artist Rights Alliance (ARA)
Artist Rights Watch
ASCAP
Association of Independent Music Publishers (AIMP)
BMI
California Arts Advocates
Christian Music Trade Association (CMTA)  
Church Music Publishers Association (CMPA) 
Country Music Association (CMA)  
CreativeFuture  
Digital Media Association (DiMA)  
Folk Alliance International
Future of Music Coalition 
Guild of Italian American Actors
Global Music Rights (GMR)  
Gospel Music Association  
The Harper Agency 
International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA)  
Music Artists Coalition (MAC)  
MusicAnswers
Music Business Association (MusicBiz)  
Music Managers Forum – US  
Musicians On Call  
Music Technology Policy Blog  
National Independent Venue Association
National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) 
National Songwriters Association International 
On Board Experiential 
Paradigm Talent Agency  
Recording Academy 
Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)  
Reel Muzik Werks, LLC  
Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA)  
SESAC  
Songwriters Guild of America 
Songwriters of North America (SONA) 
SoundExchange  
Southern Gospel Music Guild  
Trichordist  
Writers’ Guild of America, East  

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