Nothing Daft About Songwriter Equity

Daryl P. Friedman's picture

Daryl P. Friedman

  • Photo: Office of Congressman Doug Collins
    Rep. Doug Collins announces the Songwriter Equity Act on Capitol Hill with (l-r) Daryl P. Friedman, Paul Williams, and Michael O'Neill.

Kids these days. I was talking to one of these electronic dance music songwriters last week and he was telling me about the GRAMMY he won for the Daft Punk album. Oh, did I mention this cutting-edge hipster is 73 years old and named Paul Williams?

The master songwriter and president of ASCAP was in town for the introduction of the Songwriter Equity Act — songwriter legislation supported by The Recording Academy along with ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, and the National Music Publishers Association. It's always a pleasure to be in a room with Paul, but even more so as I was speaking at the Capitol Hill press conference announcing the bill with its sponsor, Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), NMPA CEO David Israelite and BMI CEO Michael O'Neill.

The SEA would update the way songwriters are paid. It would allow all relevant evidence into the rate court that determines songwriter performance royalties. Also, it would change the rate standard for mechanical royalties to one that would equate with a fair market value.

I was especially gratified to be on board because while the proposed legislation does specifically address the needs of songwriters, it does not do so at the expense of other creators, such as the producers, engineers and performers The Recording Academy represents. The producers and engineers create the overall sound audiences love; the performers translate the emotion that moves listeners; and the songwriters create the very DNA of music — that very first act of creation on the blank page. All creators need to be paid at a fair market rate.

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), a member of the Recording Arts and Sciences Congressional Caucus, noted that paying songwriters according to 100-year-old law is like "equating a tweet with a telegram." So, as Congress considers an overhaul of copyright, the Songwriters Equity Act should be part of it. If a legend like Paul Williams can adjust his career to write with Daft Punk, then surely Congress can update its laws. And when they do, all songwriters will "get lucky."

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The Recording Academy is the preeminent organization for musicians, producers, engineers and other music professionals. Our mission is to advance artistic and technical excellence, work to ensure a vital and free creative environment, and act as an advocate on behalf of music and its makers.

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“Everyone knows that The Academy bestows the GRAMMY Awards every year for artistic achievement, but more people need to know that this organization works hard on behalf of its members to create a level economic playing field—one that promotes innovation and ensures financial viability for all music creators.” – Zac Brown, GRAMMY winner Zac Brown Band, GRAMMYs on the Hill 2016

“I've been around The Recording Academy for many years. While many know the organization for its annual GRAMMY Awards... it's really inspiring to see firsthand the Academy's efforts here in Washington and the impact and the value it has on our very own music industry.” – Clive Davis, Chief Creative Officer, Sony Music Entertainment, GRAMMYs on The Hill 2012

“I applaud NARAS for their efforts to further the cause of creator rights and hope all of us join in to help them.” -- Irving Azoff, Chairman/CEO, Azoff MSG Entertainment, Salute To Icons 2016

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