U.S. Senate bill would raise pay-per-use for songwriters - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

U.S. Senate bill would raise pay-per-use for songwriters


Songwriters create the tunes that get stuck in our heads and bring millions of dollars to Nashville, but some say they don't have the protections they need to get paid for their work.

Now, three U.S. senators are sponsoring a bill to right that wrong.

"Italy has its art, Egypt has its pyramids, Napa Valley has its wine and Nashville has its songwriters," said U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-TN.

Alexander, along with Sens. Bob Corker, R-TN, and Orrin Hatch, R-UT, stopped by Nashville's Bluebird Cafe on Monday to announce legislation that would allow songwriters to receive the fair market value for their songs and remove government price controls in both recordings and live performances of their tunes.

Hatch is a royalty receiving songwriter himself.

"It's critical, because nobody can continue to write music if they can't at least have some hope of being compensated for the music that they write," he said.

For now, the rate of pay to a songwriter set by the federal government is 9.1 cents per use. That rate has only risen 7 cents in the last 100 years and is typically shared between the writer and the publisher.

"From the time rates where set over 102 years ago, at that point in time, a postage stamp was 2 cents, so was a writer's share on a song that is sold, or a piano roll or whatever. Well, now a postage stamp is 48, 49 cents? Well, we're still at 9.1 cents," said Chris Keaton, president of Keaton Music Ventures.

The proposed law would allow the copyright royalty board to take in consideration other factors such as the amount of downloads, CD sales and public performances, and not restrict them to any federally set mandate.

For songwriter Jim Reilley, it's a step in the right direction.

"We have to figure out a new model, and I think we need to be forward thinking, not backward thinking. And so if this legislation works, I think it's wonderful," he said.

This bill is in the early stages, and a companion bill introduced in the U.S. House has been co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-TN, among others.

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