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Music Groups Unite to Again Ask Congress to Provide Relief from Toll of Pandemic

A united music community today sent a letter to congressional leaders highlighting the growing devastation to the live music industry due to COVID-19.

Photo by Vishnu R Nair on Pexels.com

Washington, D.C. (November 24, 2020) — A united music community sent a letter to congressional leaders highlighting the growing devastation to the live music industry due to COVID-19.  The letter urged that they immediately pass legislation to provide additional relief desperately needed by the many artists, musicians, engineers, producers, and venues who bring live music to the public.

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The organizations said in a joint statement: “There is no denying that COVID-19 has truly tested the nation, and it has had a devastating effect on our country’s music industry. The live music business – once a sign of a thriving community and a draw to our cultural and commercial centers – has gone tragically silent. The music community remains grateful for Congress’s bipartisan relief efforts earlier this year, but more must be done soon to avoid a level of loss that could devastate artists, musicians, engineers, producers, venues, and everyone in the music industry for a generation.”

In the letter, the groups specifically ask Congress to (1) renew and extend Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation; (2) pass the RESTART Act; (3) fix the CARES Act by passing the Mixed Earner Pandemic Unemployment Act; (4) expand the Saves Our Stages Act; (5) expand employer retention tax credits and pass a 100% COBRA premium subsidy; and (6) pass the Performing Artist Tax Parity Act and the HITS Act.

The coalition has routinely called on Congress to act–sending letters to leadership throughout the spring and summer as well as organizing MusicCovidRelief.com, a central repository to help the music community access aid.  

The full letter with signatories is below.

November 24, 2020

Dear Leader McConnell, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer and Leader McCarthy,

There is no denying that COVID-19 has truly tested the nation, and it has had a devastating effect on our country’s music industry.  The live music business – once a sign of a thriving community and a draw to our cultural and commercial centers – has gone tragically silent. The music community remains grateful for Congress’ bipartisan relief efforts earlier this year, but more must be done soon to avoid a level of loss that that could devastate artists, musicians, engineers, producers, venues, and everyone in the music industry for a generation.

First, Congress must renew and extend existing benefits that have proved indispensable, including the weekly funding provided through Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation.  Congress must also act to pass the RESTART Act, to build on the short-term relief provided by the Paycheck Protection Program.  

Second, Congress must fix an unintended error in the CARES Act by passing the Mixed Earner Pandemic Unemployment Act.  Mixed earners, or gig workers with a minimum amount of W-2 income, have been excluded from Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, and overly burdensome PUA documentation requirements are out of step with the workplace realities of the gig economy.

Third, with no clear direction on when safe public gatherings may resume, Congress must expand the current form of the Save Our Stages Act and pass it to provide sufficient assistance for small venues and multi-use publicly owned venues.  77% of people in the live events industry have lost 100% of their incomes, including 97% of 1099 workers.  These people work at venues of all sizes and in a variety of capacities – whether it be full-time, part-time, or on the side as a gig worker.  With uncertainty surrounding the resumption of live events, most of these workers are still struggling to make ends meet.  Providing direct financial relief to the workers of all venues is critical to keeping local communities afloat.  Indeed, dollars spent to keep venues open have a multiplier effect, as live music brings patrons to hotels, restaurants, and other small businesses that are also struggling to survive.  Expanding Save Our Stages to include all different types of live events workers – and not excluding them simply for where they work – will help revitalize our economy at the ground level.

Fourth, Congress must do more to ensure workers can keep their job-based healthcare plans during this pandemic.  We believe Congress should expand employer retention tax credits and pass a 100% COBRA premium subsidy to ensure that job disruptions through no fault of their own don’t cost Americans their health as well as their livelihoods.

Finally, Congress must ensure that tax relief reaches musicians and workers in the performing arts by passing the Performing Artist Tax Parity Act and the HITS Act.

Like many in 2020, our community has come together to speak with one voice to ensure that we all can enjoy better days in the future together.  We hope that with your leadership, Congress, in the upcoming lame duck session, will take this clear opportunity to save American music, culture, and countless small businesses.  Thank you for your consideration.

Academy of Country Music
American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers
Artist Rights Alliance
Broadcast Music, Inc.
Christian Music Trade Association
Church Music Publishers Association Action Fund
Country Music Association
Gospel Music Association
International Bluegrass Music Association
Living Legends Foundation, Inc
Music Artists Coalition
Music Managers Forum – US
National Music Publishers Association
Nashville Songwriters Association International
Production Music Association
Recording Academy
Recording Industry Association of America
Rhythm & Blues Foundation, Inc
Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists
SESAC
Society of Composers & Lyricists
Songwriters of North America
SoundExchange
Southern Gospel Music Guild

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