US Government Offers Help For Musicians, Music Industry
The US is on the verge of passing a $2 trillion aid packages designed to blunt the coronavirus pandemic’s economic impact that includes provisions that will provide help to musicians, crew and other support staff as well as indie labels, venues and other small music businesses.
The bi-partisan bill is expected to pass the US House on Friday and quickly be signed into law.
The legislation includes unprecedented unemployment benefits for sole proprietors and independent contractors – the tax status most commonly used by musicians, producers, technicians, and many others working in music, particularly in the hard-hit touring and indie music sectors.
Sole proprietors and small music companies will also be eligible for low interest and no-interest loans, including a special loan designed to cover salaries which will be forgiven if employees are retained through June.
Emergency Arts Funding
Also included in the $2 trillion bill was $75 million in emergency funding for the National Endowment of the Arts to give grants to arts organizations and $75 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities. Critics say this funding is a fraction of the relief needed. The Kennedy Center For The Arts also received $25 million in emergency funding.
The legislation came after intense lobbying from all corners of the music industry and other sectors driven by the gig economy including ride-share, tech and the hospitality industry which includes the staff at most music venues.
“Here’s what this boils down to me: They’re going to be eligible for loans and grants and possibly forgiveness of those loans if they can’t make up the income at the end of the year,” Bart Herbison, executive director of the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) told Rolling Stone. “As urgent as the Music Modernization Act was, this is more urgent. This is going to save careers. This is going to give the workers, the creators of music, a support system — it’s going to help them sustain the jobs. We’re talking about tens of thousands of people. This is a local nightclub performer, a sound engineer, a recording artist, everyone.”
“We are grateful that the stimulus package contains emergency access to unemployment insurance for those who cannot work due to a canceled performance or a production shut down,” said Mitch Glazier, RIAA Chairman. “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.”
“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,” concluded Glazier. “We look forward to working with the House to get this relief across the finish line as quickly as possible.”