Services like Spotify and Pandora are great for users, who are given instant access to millions of songs for a low monthly fee. But as anyone who follows the music industry ought to know by now, they’re not great for songwriters, as Cracker’s David Lowery rather famously pointed out last June. His band’s 2006 hit, “Low,” was played 1,159,000 times in a single quarter last year, for which Lowery was compensated with a measly $16.89 check.
Some of our congressmen and congresswomen are now working to change that with the Songwriter Equity Act of 2014. Introduced in February by Congressman Doug Collins (R-GA), the bill seeks to protect the interests of songwriters by making sure they are compensated fairly, especially when their songs are picked up by streaming services. Industry support for the bill is strong among organizations like ASCAP and BMI, but groups that have to pay royalties, such as the National Association of Broadcasters, are fighting it.
There are two main components to the bill, both of which address outdated portions of the Copyright Act that “prevent songwriters from receiving royalty rates that reflect fair market value for the use of their intellectual property,” according to a press kit from the bill’s sponsors. “That has created inequity in the marketplace that harms America’s songwriters and music publishers.”