New Songwriting Group SONA on Why They're Suing the Dept. of Justice

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The morning of Friday, July 8th, my songwriting partner Kay Hanley and I sat at my dining room table, shell-shocked, our cups of coffee going cold as we talked through what had happened earlier that week in a conference call with attorneys from the US Dept. of Justice. Not only was the requested relief from the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees unceremoniously denied, but it seemed like we were being punished for asking in the first place with an additional ruling/regulation called "100 percent licensing."

Kay and I founded our advocacy organization, SONA (Songwriters of North America), in Spring 2015 because of the consent decrees. I mean, when you find out that the government regulates your small songwriting business more strictly than it does, say, pharmaceutical companies, it's pretty shocking. Without getting too detailed on what consent decrees are, here's the basics:

  • They are anti-trust measures imposed on our performance rights organizations (PROs), ASCAP and BMI

  • They were put in place long before I was born

  • They have not been modified to allow for fair remuneration from digital streaming services. In layman’s terms - right now, the songwriters are getting CRUSHED by minuscule streaming rates, mostly because of these things.

As a result of so many songwriters feeling the squeeze of the consent decrees' regulations, SONA joined other songwriter organizations, publishers, and our PRO’s to ask the DoJ for relief, for protection, for fairness. We asked for very reasonable modifications to the decrees. And after all the meetings and phone calls -- plus entreaties for mercy that fell JUST short of begging -- their answer was essentially this: "No. And f--k you for asking."

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