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Songwriter Equity Act of 2014: Will it Help or Hurt the Music Industry?

From left to right: ASCAP's Beth Matthews, Paul Williams, Rep. Judy Chu and Rep. Tom Marino calling for support of the Songwriter Equity Act. (image source)

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There are two main components to the bill, both of which address outdated portions of the Copyright Act that “prevent songwriters from receiving royalty rates that reflect fair market value for the use of their intellectual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.”

Ask a Music Journalist: How to Give an Interview Like a Pro

Imagine Dragons being interviewed at the 2013 Ilosaarirock Festival in Joensuu, Finland. Photo credit: Tuomas Vitikainen.

One of the most fun parts of the music journalist’s job, at least for people like me, is the opportunity to have a conversation with a musician whose work we like. When we are doing our jobs well, we spend hours in advance of the interview listening to their records, reading past press, talking about them with like-minded friends and thinking about what we want to say.

The best music journalists come to an interview with a set of questions prepared, and we always hope to have come up with at least a handful that the artist hasn’t been asked by other interviewers before us. But no matter how prepared we are, no matter how thoughtful our questions are or how much time we’re willing to dedicate to the interview process, these conversations are two-way streets. Whether you have a great interviewer sitting across from you or someone with a litany of “What’s your favorite…” questions, there are some strategies for being compelling in conversation.

7 Reasons Why People Aren't Coming to Your Shows

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“If you build it, they will come,” sure has a nice ring to it, but anyone who’s ever played a show to a virtually empty room knows it’s not true. While there is no exact science to packing a venue, there are some things you can do to improve your batting average. Here are seven things to consider when planning your shows:

Spotlight On: Steven Matrick, Talent Buyer at Pianos in New York

Left: photo courtesy of Steven Matrick / Right: image source

Pianos, a two-story bar/venue/rstaurant on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, is a lynchpin of the city's live music scene, thanks in large part to its talent buyer, Steven Matrick. A veteran of the music scene, Matrick also owns an artist management/concert promotion company, Kepler Events. We caught up with the industry impresario to find out how he got his start in the music industry and what he looks for when booking bands at Pianos.

Songwriters Hall of Fame Inductees Reveal How to Write the Perfect Song

Photos courtesy of Songwriters Hall of Fame inductees Don Schlitz (left) and Desmond Child (right).

Part of the mythos of the music industry is the Cinderella story. You know the one: someone comes along and plucks an artist from obscurity, whisking them away to the life they dream of. Hey, it happened to Justin Bieber — from YouTube crooner to multi-platinum artist almost overnight — so why not you?

That's what the Songwriters Hall of Fame is aiming to accomplish for a deserving Sonicbids artist with this year's Songwriters Hall of Fame Song Competition. Both amateur and professional songwriters are invited to enter to win an exclusive Universal Music Publishing Group contract, two tickets to the 2015 Songwriters Hall of Fame Annual Induction and Awards Gala, and recognition from the stage in front of the industry's most powerful star makers from music publishing, record companies, producers, managers and songwriters representatives. In addition, four second place winners will receive a one-hour creative and career mentoring session with a legendary songwriter who has been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, among other spoils.