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Updated: Biden Administration Announces Creator-Friendly Changes To The Paycheck Protection Program
UPDATE: This article, originally posted on Feb. 24, 2021, has been updated with new information for music makers and music small businesses based on the recent passage of the American Rescue Plan, and new regulatory updates by the Small Business Administration. Importantly, effective March 3, self-employed individuals (including independent contractors, gig workers, and sole proprietors) will be eligible for an increased PPP loan amount based on their gross income. Per the SBA, this change is limited to applicants who had yet to be approved for a loan as of March 3.
Additionally, per the American Rescue Plan, eligible businesses may now apply for both a PPP loan and a Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG). Previously, potential applicants for SVOGs were prohibited from applying for assistance from programs. Under the new law, the PPP loan will offset the potential amount of an SVOG. The SVOG program will open for applicants on April 8, and PPP remains open for all small businesses until May 31.
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The Biden Administration and Small Business Administration (SBA) announced new changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) on Monday, February 22, which will result in increased access to essential financial relief for the creative workforce. Formed as part of the CARES Act, the PPP has enjoyed tremendous bipartisan support due to the program’s ability to quickly deliver relief to qualified small businesses, including sole proprietors and independent contractors. The PPP administers favorable loans to eligible borrowers through participating financial institutions, and many of the loans convert to grants if they are primarily used to fund payroll expenses.
While the relief program is appreciated and utilized by the music community, many struggling creatives were originally left with either limited or no access to the available loans administered by the SBA. But starting today, the SBA attempts to correct these inequities and other longstanding programmatic flaws by implementing new guidance.
Today, @POTUS announced new steps to increase #EquitableAccess of the #PaycheckProtection Program for America’s smallest businesses. Watch this @WhiteHouse video for an important update: https://t.co/vmPm9ZKyTf
— SBA (@SBAgov) February 22, 2021
Many creators will be directly impacted by the SBA’s updated funding formula for sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals. Previously, the PPP loan was calculated by multiplying an applicant’s payroll expense by 2.5, resulting in a much lower loan for sole-proprietors compared with larger businesses. Under the updated guidance, the SBA will calculate the loan amount for these types of workers by using gross income instead of net profits, resulting in larger payments for many members of the music ecosystem. This change is effective March 3, and applicable to applicants who have yet to be approved for a PPP loan in 2021. The Recording Academy has consistently advocated for this change since March, 2020, which will help make PPP loans more responsive to the needs of self-employed individuals.
From the program’s inception, many minority-owned businesses and businesses located in underserved communities faced difficulty accessing loans due to a lack of a formal pre-existing relationship with large financial institutions. To correct that program, the SBA has earmarked $1 billion in funds for low- and moderate-income areas. While this is a step in the right direction, the Biden Administration and the SBA must continue to increase outreach and assistance to these underserved communities and minority-owned institutions.
The SBA also prioritized getting relief to businesses with 20 employees or less, which started on February 24 and concluded on March 9, 2021. Previously, these businesses struggled to secure PPP funds due to the overcrowded lending portal. Understanding that many businesses in the music ecosystem are extremely small operations, the Academy has long advocated for the SBA to prioritize the delivery of financial relief to the smallest of businesses, many of whom are on the verge of collapse due to the pandemic’s enduring impact.
Starting today, the Biden-Harris Administration is opening an exclusive 14-day PPP loan application period for companies and nonprofits with fewer than 20 employees. Head to https://t.co/slFWiCx2W0 to learn more. pic.twitter.com/zVzm0xNn1q
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 24, 2021
Other changes in guidance include the elimination of borrowing restrictions for business owners with non-fraud felony convictions, the removal of the disqualifying federal student loan debt delinquency factors, and the expansion of the program to qualify all lawful U.S. residents. Learn more about the application process on the SBA’s website.
While many of these promising changes will positively impact the entire music ecosystem, Congress understood the need of providing additional relief and passed President Biden’s “American Rescue Plan” as a result. The relief package addresses the many complex challenges facing creators by extending unemployment assistance, appropriating funds to help small businesses survive, and investing in the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The Academy applauds President Biden and Congress on the passage of this landmark bill, and looks forward to collaborating on an equitable and seamless implementation of these critical relief programs, many of which will greatly assist the entire music ecosystem.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in February 2021 and has been updated to reflect the passage of the American Rescue Plan end of the 14-day exclusive application window.