In conjunction with the House Intellectual Property Subcommittee hearing on music licensing reform held Wednesday, four songwriter organizations collectively wrote a letter to Congress opposing the Internet Radio Fairness Act.
Moreover, the organizations — ASCAP, BMI, SESAC and the Nashville Songwriters Association International — say that the “current disjointed rate systems governing digital services” needs to be reformed because the system results in the undervaluation of the public performing right in musical works. That undervaluation causes “artificially low payments,” and thus harms America’s songwriters, composers and music publishers, according to an announcement from the organizations.
The joint letter to Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and Ranking Member Mel Watt stated: “This undervaluation of the public performing right runs contrary to global practices which often yield two times the fees generated by U.S. license rates or more, when compared to equivalent economies, and represents a trend that is harmful to both America’s music creators and the larger economy. Any Congressional examination of online music licensing issues needs to address this serious, broader issue to ensure that the interests of writers and publishers — the very creative foundation fueling the music industry — are not further deteriorated.”
The letter says that the music licensing landscape has produced gross inequities applied to the amounts paid to songwriters, composers and publishers versus those paid to record labels and recording artists. The letter pointed out that Pandora had paid almost 50% to SoundExchange, but only 4.1% of its revenues to U.S. performing rights organizations, which it says is an unprecedented 12-1 disparity. Around the world, the opposite occurs; the public performing right in the underlying music composition is paid at far higher rates than the public performance right in the sound recording, according to the letter.