MusicBus Gaining Speed As Members Of Congress Climb On

  • Neil Portnow testifies June 10 before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet. At right is Lee Thomas Miller, president of the Nashville Songwriters Association International, the second of seven witnesses to testify during the hearing
    Photo: Paul Morigi/

Make sure you have your seat, because the MusicBus is gassed up and about to hit the road.

The "music omnibus" legislation (MusicBus) first proposed by The Recording Academy's President/CEO Neil Portnow at GRAMMYs on the Hill a mere two months ago is already gaining momentum among legislators and other proponents of the music community. The growing support was evident during the recent hearing on music licensing, convened June 10 by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, where The Academy’s President/CEO was the opening witness. But before Neil or any of the witnesses had given their testimony, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the ranking member of the subcommittee, gave the MusicBus and GRAMMYs on the Hill a ringing endorsement in his opening statement, giving a litany of creator issues and noting that he plans to develop the legislation.

"If we are to rationalize the law and level the playing field, we must take a comprehensive approach.  At this year's GRAMMYs on the Hill event, Neil Portnow — who is here with us today — called for the industry to coalesce behind a music omnibus, or 'MusicBus.' His call for unity was later echoed by Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy and Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who agreed that the time has come for Congress to address these issues in one package," stated Nadler. "I agree, and I pledge to take up their charge."

Other members of Congress also mentioned the MusicBus idea during the hearing, including Reps. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) — who are co-sponsors of the Songwriter Equity Act — as well as Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Tex.).

As Neil pointed out in his statement to the Committee, the bill would address myriad inequities in copyright law that prevent music creators from receiving fair pay across all platforms, and would do so in one fell swoop — updating or correcting what has long been subject to a patchwork of legal fixes. With copyright law under review by the House Judiciary Subcommittee as well as the U.S. Copyright Office and the Department of Justice, the time is right to get the MusicBus rolling toward its final destination: fair market pay for all music creators across all platforms.


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