| 21 Feb 2024
Songwriters call for music licensing reform at ASCAP 'Songwriter Advocacy Day' on Capitol Hill

MUMBAI: Advocating for important reforms to outdated federal music licensing laws and regulations, award-winning songwriters and composers from various music genres are in Washington, DC today to meet with elected officials as part of the annual American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) 'Songwriter Advocacy Day' on Capitol Hill.

Today's meetings follow last night's 'We Write the Songs' concert at the Library of Congress, sponsored by The ASCAP Foundation.  The event was introduced by ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams ('The Rainbow Connection'), and featured performances by popular ASCAP members including: Alan Bergman ('The Way We Were'); John Bettis ('Top of the World'); Donald Fagen ('Reelin' in the Years'); Rupert Holmes ('Escape (The Piña Colada Song)'); Natalie Merchant ('Wonder'); NE-YO ('Miss Independent'); Crystal Nicole ('The Only Girl in the World'); Allen Shamblin ('The House That Built Me'); and Che 'Rhymefest' Smith ('Glory'); along with guest vocalists Deborah Cox and Lari White.

Williams and many of the performing songwriters remain in D.C. today to walk the halls of Congress, including Bergman, Bettis, Nicole, Shamblin and Smith.  They will be joined by songwriter Kevin Kadish ('All About That Bass'), ASCAP CEO Beth Matthews and many of ASCAP's Board members.  ASCAP Board members meeting with legislators include songwriters Marilyn Bergman ('The Windmills of Your Mind'), and Desmond Child ('Livin' On A Prayer'); film and TV composers Richard Bellis ('IT') Bruce Broughton ('Silverado'), Dan Foliart ('Home Improvement,' 'Roseanne'), and Doug Wood ('Saturday Night Live'); concert music composer Alex Shapiro; and publishers Barry Coburn (Ten Ten Music Group), Dean Kay (Lichelle Music and songwriter of 'That's Life') Leeds Levy (Leeds Music) and Irwin Robinson (Cromwell Music).

In their meetings on the Hill, ASCAP members will discuss the challenges facing songwriters in today's digital music marketplace and urge policymakers to update federal laws that regulate how songwriters license their works.  Their efforts underscore the critical importance of updating ASCAP's consent decree, originally created in 1941 and last updated in before the introduction of the iPod in 2001. They will also ask policymakers to support the Songwriter Equity Act, a bipartisan bill to amend two outdated portions of the US Copyright Act and level the playing field for songwriters, composers and publishers seeking fair compensation for their work.

“The rules that govern how songwriters and composers license our music no longer work in today's marketplace, presenting a very real threat to the foundation of the music value chain,” said ASCAP president and chairman Paul Williams. “Powerful corporations that now control the music delivery pipeline have lined up in opposition to reform, essentially asking the federal government to protect their profits at the expense of every songwriter, composer and music publisher in America. We're here today because it's up to each of us, as music creators, to stand up, speak out and defend the value of our music.”

In association with today's Advocacy Day, ASCAP launched a grassroots campaign and released a new video on its Advocacy page featuring personal appeals from Paul Williams, Savan Kotecha ('Bang Bang' - for Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj), Evan Taubenfeld ('Best Years of Our Lives' - with Avril Lavigne), Crystal Nicole ('Only Girl in the World' - for Rihanna) and Brett James ('Jesus, Take the Wheel' - for Carrie Underwood).