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Jessica Nicholson • March 26, 2020

On Wednesday evening (March 25) the Senate approved a $2 trillion stimulus package to help boost the economy that has been shaken in the wake of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic.

The stimulus package received a unanimous vote of 96-0, and goes forward to the House for a vote. It was announced Wednesday evening that the House will convene on Friday at 9 a.m. to vote on the stimulus package and is expected that President Donald Trump will sign the measure.

The stimulus package’s language includes both grants and loans to help songwriters, musicians, sound and lighting professionals, road crews, producers and other music industry members struggling as tours and other music live shows have been canceled or postponed, under the bill’s $300 billion-plus small business section. Those who have had concerts canceled and productions shut down will have emergency access to employment insurance.

Nashville Songwriters Association International’s Executive Director Bart Herbison noted that industry groups including NSAI, NMPA and SONA came together, working with congressional leaders including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Cong. Ted Deutch, Chairman of the “Songwriter’s Caucus” in the U.S. House of Representatives, and Senator Marsha Blackburn to ensure that language was included in the bill saying that “sole-proprietors, independent contractors and self-employed” individuals were included in different grant and loan programs, including the paycheck protection program and the emergency economic injury disaster loan (EIDL) grants.

According to NSAI, the bill’s language indicates that anyone with an income of less than $100,000, and who can show loss of income can apply for the funds. Herbison also says NSAI will act as a clearing house for information on how to apply for federal grants and loans.

“We will be making details available over the next few days on specifics of the various programs contained in the legislation. NSAI will help direct those eligible to the appropriate resources for relief,” NSAI Executive Director Bart Herbison said in a statement. “In some circumstances relief funds won’t have to be repaid.”

The legislation includes access to small business loans and payment deferrals, making it easier for musicians who are often independent contractors and sole proprietors, to obtain and pay loans. Another provision provides additional funding for the National Endowment of the Arts, which gives grants to arts organizations to offer relief to musicians.

Advocates included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Reps. Jerrold Nadler, Jim Cooper, Martha Roby, Zoe Lofgren, Sens. Marco Rubio, John Kennedy, Diane Feinstein and others.

“Many music industry professionals are not eligible for traditional unemployment benefits because they are self-employed,” said Herbison. “That’s why is was imperative that the federal stimulus package contain language that made them eligible for relief. Now they will be able to apply for immediate financial help for any income they’ve lost over the past few weeks and income they will lose throughout the rest of this year.”

“Music City was not built by high-powered businessmen, but by a fiercely talented community of independent singers, songwriters, and musicians who are now struggling to keep their heads above water. In this time of fear and uncertainty, it is important that we do not abandon these creators. With that in mind, I led a bipartisan team of advocates to ensure that all music industry professionals will benefit from the provisions of this rescue package. I thank the Nashville creative community for their resilience and am honored to weather the storm alongside such an extraordinary group of Tennesseans,” said Senator Blackburn.

“As Congress intervenes to help Americans struggling from this national crisis, we know Americans will be impacted in different ways. Songwriters and so many in the music industry are self-employed; they’re gig workers, independent contractors, and sole proprietors. That’s why I worked with my colleagues and the creative community to ensure we include language in this economic stimulus package to help them weather the storm and qualify for relief. Music is helping so many of us cope right now; we need to help the people who create it,” said Congressman Deutch.

The RIAA’s Mitch Glazier commented, “We applaud Leaders McConnell and Schumer, Secretary Mnuchin, and all Members of the Senate and the Administration who worked to include direct financial aid to Americans in need in the stimulus package the Senate passed today. The music community always steps up to help Americans get through trying times and circumstances, and this legislation steps up to help our community face unique circumstances during this national emergency… We know the power of music will help us get through this crisis, but we also know that economic pain will continue to cut even deeper in the weeks and months ahead. We look forward to working with the House to get this relief across the finish line as quickly as possible.”

“Right now, everyone in music is suffering as we all find ways of coping with the effects of Coronavirus,” said NMPA’s David Israelite. “We are greatly relieved that songwriters, composers and musicians across the country will be helped by the emergency stimulus package passed by the Senate today. From paycheck protection and stimulus checks to grants that help with rent and mortgage payments, the legislation will help the creative community – particularly those who qualify as independent contractors, sole proprietors and self-employed – who have been hit hard by this pandemic. We want to thank Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL) for their dedication to ensuring this assistance was included in the bill, and we greatly appreciate the work of the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) and the Songwriters of North America (SONA) for their tireless work to get this done.”

“ASCAP applauds the Senate for unanimously passing significant relief that aids the creative community and millions of other Americans during this difficult and uncertain time,” said ASCAP’s President and Chairman Paul Williams. “Songwriters are some of America’s most-treasured small business owners, and it’s imperative that we continue to support and assist independent contractors and self-employed musicians whose lives and income have been upended by this pandemic. We look forward to this bill passing the House and being signed by the President.  We are all in this together, and ASCAP will continue to do everything in our power to ensure that music creators can weather this storm.”

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