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Congress Is Back In Action In September: 3 Things Music Makers Should Watch For On Capitol Hill
For music fans and advocates interested in the legislative side of music policy, it's typically crickets on Capitol Hill every August. This is understandable: August is the traditional summer recess for Congress, when they are out of session.
However, this always tees up a flurry of legislative action for their return in September. This year is no different. And the Recording Academy has been prepping to make sure music makers and music policy are part of the action when lawmakers return to D.C. this month.
Here's a quick rundown of three key initiatives to keep an eye out for as legislative activity fires up again on Capitol Hill:
Momentum For The HITS Act
Congressional Democrats are working on drafting and advancing President Biden's ambitious "American Jobs and Family Plan" that will touch on all facets of the American economy and society. With a lot in the potential mix, the Recording Academy is working to ensure that the HITS (Help Independent Tracks Succeed) Act is firmly on Congress's radar.
For context: The HITS Act is designed to help independent artists get back into the studio to create new music through more favorable tax treatment of sound recordings, similar to the existing tax treatment of movie, television, and live theatrical productions. Unlike their peers in these other creative professions, individual recording artists and record producers are limited in how they can deduct their production costs, putting music creators at a real disadvantage and stifling opportunities to create new music. The bipartisan and bicameral bill has been well-received by lawmakers and is ready to move…if the legislative process allows it.
Increasing Funding For The National Endowment For The Arts
Each year, Congress races to pass a funding package before the end of the government's Fiscal Year on September 30. Included in this month's deliberations is an increase in funding for music and the arts via a record level of $201 million for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Earlier this year, the Recording Academy submitted testimony in support of funding the NEA at $201 million, and since then both the House of Representatives and the Senate have taken pivotal steps to fund the agency at this historic level, but work remains to get it to the president's desk.
If Congress can't muster the votes before the September 30 deadline, they will likely pass a stopgap measure to keep the government afloat temporarily, and try again later in the fall.
The American Music Fairness Act & Advancing Artists' Rights
Earlier this summer Representatives Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Darrell Issa (R-CA) introduced the American Music Fairness Act, a new bill to ensure that artists, performers, producers, and music creators are fairly compensated when their songs are played on terrestrial radio stations. The bill continues to build momentum in D.C., and Congress's return to Capitol Hill marks the perfect time to further gain support for this landmark legislation that would end the century old loophole that has hindered artists' rights.
Because of this antiquated loophole in copyright law, terrestrial (AM/FM) radio stations do not pay artists for the music they play on the radio in the United States. The American Music Fairness Act rights this wrong and ensures all of the artists and studio professionals behind the sound recording can earn fair compensation when their music is played on major, commercial FM radio stations—like , iHeart Radio and other conglomerates that earn billions of dollars in revenue each year. The new legislation also includes carve outs to truly protect local and noncommercial radio stations, while also protecting royalties for songwriters.