Above, L-R: Songwriter Josh Kear, co-chair of the Congressional Songwriters Caucus Rep. Martha Blackburn, songwriter Dan Wilson and ASCAP president Paul Williams
Yesterday, at the Rayburn House Office Building on Washington D.C.’s Independence Avenue, ASCAP and two multi-platinum songwriters — Dan Wilson and Josh Kear — made, and sung, their case to a room of Congress members and staffers.
“As songwriters, we need to ensure that Congress hears our side of the story as they review how digital music royalties are paid. The way it works now, songwriters are being forced to become unwitting investors in unsustainable businesses that undervalue our music. We’d love to see streaming services truly succeed in a way that is designed to fairly compensate music creators,” said Josh Kear, the multiple Grammy-winning songwriter behind hits for Carrie Underwood, Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker, Keith Urban and more.
The timing of the event follows the expiration of the Internet Radio Fairness Act on Jan. 3, which has opened the door for the 114th Congress to set new royalty rates on song streams and downloads — rates that songwriters deem “minuscule,” despite their songs generating millions of plays on services like Pandora and Spotify.
“Every online music stream involves a performance of both the musical composition — written by the songwriter — and the sound recording — the performance by the recording artist. The creative contributions of both songwriter and performing artist are essential to enjoyment of the song; without either one, the music doesn’t exist,” said Dan Wilson, the songwriter behind Adele’s hit “Someone Like You,” which he performed for the crowd at Rayburn.
Said ASCAP president and chairman Paul Williams: “We want to educate and work with Congress to address some of the legislative constraints that have resulted in this gross inequity in payments for those who write the songs, without which there would be no music to record or stream. Congress should no longer prohibit our rate court from considering the most relevant evidence when establishing royalty rates for online streaming.”