Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Smokey Sings At Senate Hearing

Music legend Smokey Robinson and Nashville-based songwriter Josh Kear urged Congress on Tuesday to pass the first major music copyright reform law in decades, saying that many songwriters are struggling financially because they are not being adequately paid for use of their songs.

“It’s a livelihood thing — it’s not just about music, it’s about lives,” said Robinson, the writer of such classics as “I Second That Emotion” and “Tears of a Clown.”

Kear, who wrote the Carrie Underwood smash “Before He Cheats” and the Lady Antebellum hit “Need You Now,” said many songwriters can no longer make a living off of the royalties they receive for their music.

According to The Tennessean, legislation before the Senate would drastically change the way digital music companies obtain a license to play songs and ensure that songwriters are paid when their music is played.

The Music Modernization Act would create a new music licensing organization, run by publishers and songwriters, that would be in charge of identifying a composition's copyright owners and paying them the royalties they are due. The legislation also would create a new standard for the rate-setting court to use to determine the fair royalty rate songwriters should be paid.

In addition, the proposal would guarantee that artists and labels are paid for songs recorded before 1972 when their music is played on the internet and satellite radio. It also would codify record producers’ and engineers’ right to digital royalties.

The legislation easily passed the House late last month and has widespread support in the music industry, including the NAB.

In his testimony, Robinson said the right to collect royalties on music recorded before 1972 is especially important for writers of many classic songs. Congress extended copyright protection to music in the 1970s, but the change applied only to recordings made after Feb. 15, 1972.

As a result, the writers of many classic songs don’t get paid when their music is played on satellite radio and on digital streaming services. Many of those writers are at an age when their career is winding down and they are no longer able to tour, make public appearances or record new material to earn a living, Robinson said.

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