Kicking off the 9th ASCAP “I Create Music” EXPO, ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams announced the “Music Advocacy Project” (MAP) initiative, a five-point plan to guide meaningful music licensing reform in Washington. The announcement was made at ASCAP’s General Annual Membership Meeting, the opening session of the ASCAP EXPO.
An award-winning songwriter and longtime advocate for the rights of music creators, Williams’ opening remarks focused on the unique challenges songwriters and composers face in the digital era: “The rules and regulations that govern how we do business are outdated and don’t work in today’s evolving music marketplace.” Pointing to ASCAP’s consent decree with the Department of Justice, originally created in 1941 and last updated in 2001 before the introduction of the iPod, Williams expressed optimism it would be updated to reflect the realities of today’s music marketplace.
Williams went on to describe ASCAP’s efforts to build consensus among industry stakeholders and policymakers who recognize the need for reform, outlining five core Music Advocacy Project, or “MAP,” principles crucial to his vision of a sustainable future for music:
* SIMPLIFICATION: The music licensing process must be simplified, streamlined and reflective of how people listen to music today.
* MARKET RATES: The free market should determine the value of music copyrights, just as it does in other entertainment sectors.
* CONSUMER CHOICE: Music fans should continue to have access to a wide variety of music on any platform they choose.
* CREATOR CONTROL: Music starts with the songwriter or composer, and the interests of music creators should be central to any effort to reform copyright laws.
* ACCESS: We must preserve a robust collective licensing system in order to keep the music playing, ensure music creators are fairly compensated for use of their work, and enable new music businesses to launch efficiently and legally.
Williams shared promising signs of progress, noting the recent introduction of the bipartisan Songwriter Equity Act legislation in Congress, a recently announced U.S. Copyright Office study to analyze the effectiveness of the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees, and strong statements of support from key members of Congress.
“We are working on the front lines,” Williams told the ASCAP members in the audience, saying: “The Music Advocacy Project is our map to a modernized music licensing system that works better for everyone – writers, composers, publishers, licensees and, most importantly, music fans.”
Later, ASCAP CEO John LoFrumento echoed Williams’ call for members to engage in efforts to reform the music licensing system and shared how the 500,000-member organization is evolving in its 100th anniversary year: “As streaming becomes more popular, we believe the value of your music on those platforms is growing. That’s why our work in Washington to modernize the rules that govern our music licensing system is mission critical.”
LoFrumento also expressed optimism about the future of ASCAP’s collective licensing model: “We see tremendous opportunity going forward – a new era for ASCAP and greater opportunities for our members. But it will take all of us standing together to build a future where creative work is valued as it should be – as the foundation of the entire music business and as the driving force that attracts listeners to all the delivery platforms out there, from old media to new.”