Senate on Tuesday (April 21) voted to pass a bill adding $310 billion to the Small Business Administration’s COVID-19 loan program, including $50 billion for economic disaster aid loans, after the program’s initial $349 billion funding pool ran out. The supplemental relief package is $484 billion in total and the House is expected to approve the bill later this week.
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, many trade groups in the music industry — which has many thousands of small businesses and self-employed run business — have been working closely with Congress to insure bills are worded properly to ensure relief funding flows to music too.
A joint statement from those trade groups applauds “leaders of the Senate and House, Secretary Mnuchin, and the Administration who worked to find an agreement to include more funding for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. This action is an important next step to ensure the program has funds to reach all Americans who need it.”
The music coalition includes the Artist Rights Alliance (ARA), American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI), Global Music Rights (GMR), the Music Artists Coalition (MAC), National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), the Recording Academy, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the Society of European Stage Authors and Composers (SESAC), the Songwriters of North America (SONA) and more.
“Musicians, songwriters, and composers have had their ability to work upended by the pandemic,” says the joint statement. “Because they often act as independent contractors and sole proprietors, traditional unemployment benefits fail to provide financial relief. That’s why it remains essential that the PPP make independent contractors and sole proprietors fully eligible for loans and loan forgiveness including accounting for lost wages and insurance costs during the eligibility period.
Up to now, music industry participants and other industries seeking relief have been confronting confusion “about where to get a PPP loan, how to apply, and shifting guidance concerning necessary paperwork,” the music industry coalition statement notes. “States are also offering conflicting guidance about eligibility for new unemployment benefits provided in the CARES Act. In some states, updated application forms are still not yet widely available, and there are misunderstandings about the duration of eligibility for unemployment and the calculation of benefits.”
Even with the passing of this bill and applauds for the administration, Congress and state governments for what’s already to support Americans so far during the crisis, they group says it looks “forward to further improvements on this very good foundation to help all Americans get through this difficult time.”
For its part, the music community came together to launch MusicCovidRelief.com, which provides guidance and resource material to help industry members navigate the resources made available through the $2 trillion CARES Act.