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Major US music orgs write to Congress for Covid aid

The organisations have written to Congress to ask that relevant legislation is passed and additional relief is given to the 'tragically silent' sector

By IQ on 25 Nov 2020

US Congress

US Congress


image © Wikimedia Commons/JessicaRodriguezRivas

The Recording Academy, the Recording Industry Association of America and Music Managers Forum US are among the US organisations that have written to Congress to ask for additional support to “avoid a level of loss that that could devastate everyone in the music industry for a generation”.

The letter reads: “There is no denying that Covid-19 has truly tested the nation, and it has had a devastating effect on our country’s music industry. The live music business – once a sign of a thriving community and a draw to our cultural and commercial centres – has gone tragically silent. The music community remains grateful for Congress’ bipartisan relief efforts earlier this year, but more must be done soon.”

In the letter, the organisations present six recommendations to Congress: renew and extend existing benefits that have proved indispensable; pass the Restart Act (Reviving the Economy Sustainably Towards a Recovery), which is currently stalled; fix the Cares Act by passing the Mixed Earner Pandemic Unemployment Act.

The signatories have also urged Congress to: expand the Saves Our Stages Act; expand employer retention tax credits and pass a 100% Cobra premium subsidy; and pass the Performing Artist Tax Parity Act and the Hits Act.

The letter concludes with: “Like many in 2020, our community has come together to speak with one voice to ensure that we all can enjoy better days in the future together. We hope that with your leadership, Congress, in the upcoming lame duck session, will take this clear opportunity to save American music, culture, and countless small businesses. Thank you for your consideration.”

Read the letter in full below.

 


24 November 2020

Dear Leader McConnell, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer and Leader McCarthy,

There is no denying that Covid-19 has truly tested the nation, and it has had a devastating effect on our country’s music industry. The live music business – once a sign of a thriving community and a draw to our cultural and commercial centres – has gone tragically silent. The music community remains grateful for Congress’ bipartisan relief efforts earlier this year, but more must be done soon to avoid a level of loss that that could devastate artists, musicians, engineers, producers, venues, and everyone in the music industry for a generation.

First, Congress must renew and extend existing benefits that have proved indispensable, including the weekly funding provided through Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation. Congress must also act to pass the Restart Act, to build on the short-term relief provided by the Paycheck Protection Program.

Second, Congress must fix an unintended error in the Cares Act by passing the Mixed Earner Pandemic Unemployment Act. Mixed earners, or gig workers with a minimum amount of W-2 income, have been excluded from Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, and overly burdensome PUA documentation requirements are out of step with the workplace realities of the gig economy.

Third, with no clear direction on when safe public gatherings may resume, Congress must expand the current form of the Save Our Stages Act and pass it to provide sufficient assistance for small venues and multi-use publicly owned venues. 77% of people in the live events industry have lost 100% of their incomes, including 97% of 1099 workers. These people work at venues of all sizes and in a variety of capacities – whether it be full-time, part-time, or on the side as a gig worker. With uncertainty surrounding the resumption of live events, most of these workers are still struggling to make ends meet.

Providing direct financial relief to the workers of all venues is critical to keeping local communities afloat. Indeed, dollars spent to keep venues open have a multiplier effect, as live music brings patrons to hotels, restaurants, and other small businesses that are also struggling to survive. Expanding Save Our Stages to include all different types of live events workers – and not excluding them simply for where they work – will help revitalize our economy at the ground level.

Fourth, Congress must do more to ensure workers can keep their job-based healthcare plans during this pandemic. We believe Congress should expand employer retention tax credits and pass a 100% Cobra premium subsidy to ensure that job disruptions through no fault of their own don’t cost Americans their health as well as their livelihoods.

Finally, Congress must ensure that tax relief reaches musicians and workers in the performing arts by passing the Performing Artist Tax Parity Act and the HITS Act.

Like many in 2020, our community has come together to speak with one voice to ensure that we all can enjoy better days in the future together. We hope that with your leadership, Congress, in the upcoming lame duck session, will take this clear opportunity to save American music, culture, and countless small businesses. Thank you for your consideration.

Signed: Academy of Country Music; Artist Rights Alliance; Broadcast Music, Inc; Christian Music Trade Association; Church Music Publishers Association Action Fund; Country Music Association; Gospel Music Association; Music Artists Coalition; Music Managers Forum – US; National Music Publishers Association; Production Music Association; Recording Academy; Recording Industry Association of America; SESAC; Society of Composers & Lyricists; Songwriters of North America; SoundExchange; Southern Gospel Music Guild; The American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers; The Living Legends Foundation, Inc; The Rhythm & Blues Foundation, Inc.

 


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