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US music industry welcomes support for self-employed and the arts provided by Congress’s $2.2 trillion COVID-19 relief legislation

By | Published on Monday 30 March 2020

US Congress

US Congress last week passed a major $2.2 trillion relief package to provide further support for Americans hit by the COVID-19 crisis. Among many other things, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief And Economic Security (CARES) Act includes financial support for those who are self-employed. As in the UK, the American music industry had been campaigning hard for such support, given how many people in the music community work on a freelance basis.

There are also specific measures for the creative sector, including a $75 million supplemental fund for the National Endowment For The Arts, which will be distributed to state-run and not-for-profit arts organisations affected by the COVID-19 shutdown.

The measures were widely welcomed by the music industry. The interim CEO of the Recording Academy, Harvey Mason Jr, said in a statement: “The Recording Academy thanks the congressional leaders who worked with the music community to craft a bill that allows the music to play on. In navigating this unprecedented crisis, all music industry professionals across the US, many of whom rely on multiple gigs for their livelihood, can be grateful that they are included in this extraordinary effort to help Americans”.

“We will now turn our attention to helping music-makers and others who make a living in our industry navigate the process of getting the financial assistance they need while anticipating the day when they can return to providing the soundtrack to our nation, which we’ll all need when this crisis is over”, he added.

Speaking for the record industry, the CEO of the Recording Industry Association Of America, Mitch Glazier, said: “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 are grateful that the stimulus package contains emergency access to unemployment insurance for those who cannot work due to a cancelled performance or a production shut down”, he went on. “Access to this expanded unemployment insurance will ensure that hundreds of thousands of musicians’ families across the country can continue to pay rent, put food on the table, and care for their children during this public health crisis”.

Glaizer also added: “We also applaud the provision that provides more funding for the National Endowment Of The Arts to give grants to arts organisations that provide relief to musicians”.

On the songs side of the business, Mike O’Neill of collecting society BMI said: “We are extremely pleased that the federal stimulus package will offer relief to America’s songwriters and composers, who are, in many cases, our nation’s ultimate small businesses”.

“Thanks to the CARES Act”, he said, “music creators who are independent contractors, sole proprietors or self-employed, will be eligible for small business loans, emergency grants, unemployment insurance, payroll tax deferrals and more, which will all help protect their livelihoods during this challenging time”.