Billboard Country Update: Songwriters, Stand Up!

September 23, 2015

  Via Billboard:   SONGWRITERS, STAND UP! Nashville songwriters were encouraged during a National Music Publishers’ Association town hall meeting on Sept. 9 to make their voices heard as the government reviews an antiquated system that regulates royalties. NMPA president/CEO David Israelite used slides and financial data to demonstrate that songwriters and publishers are in a David-and-Goliath battle for fairness as consumers transition from a music-purchase economy to a streaming model. The $2 billion publishing industry spent $1.9 million to lobby Congress in 2014, just 2 percent of the $79.8 million investment that its adversaries, including Spotify, made in politicking. The latter business, valued at $8 billion by analysts, is four times the economic size of music publishers. Hundreds of songwriters attended, including Bill Anderson, Ashley Gorley (“Kick the Dust Up”), Tom Douglas (“The House That Built Me”), Wood Newton (“Bobbie Sue”), Steve Bogard (“Carried Away”) and Lee Thomas Miller (“Crushin’ It”). Israelite encouraged them to stand together as a community and to enlist with writer agencies — particularly the Nashville Songwriters Association International — as their representatives work to revise procedures and rate mechanisms that were established in older eras. Copyright in the digital era is built upon a system that was started to solve player-piano disputes before even the radio became a public commodity. Songwriter royalties are doled out in smaller percentages in the United States than in other developed countries, according to Israelite. One of the biggest issues, he said, is that every congressman has broadcasters among their constituents, while songwriters are concentrated in smaller areas. Legislators are often unaware of songwriters who grew up their districts and unfamiliar with the economics of their business. “Put a songwriter in front of a member,” said Israelite. “They’ll listen to us.” townhall

Image from NMPA's Nashville Town Hall