Posted on: Thursday - Mar 26, 2020

Important Stimulus Bill Language Makes Them Eligible for Federal Relief

Songwriters, musicians, sound and light techs, road crews, producers and other self-employed music industry workers will be eligible for both grants and loans under the stimulus bill passed by the United States Senate today and expected to be approved by the U.S. House of Representatives. “Many music industry professionals are not eligible for traditional unemployment benefits because they are self-employed,” said Bart Herbison, Executive Director of the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI).  “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.”

Cong. Ted Deutch, (D-FL) Chairman of the “Songwriter’s Caucus” in the U.S. House of Representatives began a conversation with NSAI about this dilemma last week.  Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) authored language and had it included in the Senate stimulus package to ensure “sole-proprietors, independent contractors and self-employed” individuals were included in different grant and loan programs contained in the legislation including those in the PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM and the emergency ECONOMIC INJURY DISASTER LOAN (EIDL) grants.

“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.” – Senator Marsha 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.” -- Congressman Ted Deutch.

“We cannot overstate the importance of federal relief now being available for the music industry professionals who have already been devastated by the results of the Coronavirus.  One of the first impacts was on the live music industry.  Every venue in America has shut down.  The situation has also hit studio musicians, producers, and others whose income has been affected,” Herbison said. “This inclusion will help these individuals weather the pandemic storm then go back to music-related work when a sense of normalcy returns to America.” 

NSAI will act as a clearing house for information on how to apply for federal grants and loans.  The bill sets an income eligibility limit of those making under $100,000 annually for some of the programs. There are other important provisions in the bill that will also help the industry. (Note: Under sections of the stimulus bill some self-employed may now be able to file for unemployment benefits depending on the state.) “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,” Herbison added.  “In some circumstances relief funds won’t have to be repaid.”

Several Senate and House offices quickly supported the inclusion of the terminology that was made part of both the Senate and House versions of the bill.  House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer was essential in having the critical terminology placed in the House bill.  Advocates included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Reps. Jerrold Nadler, Jim Cooper, Martha Roby, Zoe Lofgren, Sens. Marco Rubio, John Kennedy, Diane Feinstein and others. Inclusion of the language in the different stimulus packages was an industry-wide effort with several groups playing vital roles. 

“Live music events have been postponed and recording sessions and co-writes cancelled, but great compositions will fill venues once again,” noted Herbison. “Songs will help the world overcome the Coronavirus just as they have every human challenge for millennia.  We are thankful for the assistance on behalf of songwriters, composers, musicians, producers, engineers, artists and others who will create and perform the future soundtrack for our nation and the world.”