The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Songwriters ask members of Congress to ‘figure this whole royalties situation out’

Marc Broussard performs at the National Music Publishers’ Association D.C. Songwriter Showcase. (NMPA)
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While such streaming services as Spotify and Pandora may be background noise to lots of people (at work, at a party, in the car), for songwriters, they’re very much at the forefront of their minds.

Because not only has music streaming taken a huge bite out of profits, but after months of hearings, the Copyright Royalty Board — which operates under the Library of Congress — will soon set new song royalty rates for the next five years, determining how much writers get paid.

Did your eyes glaze over at “Copyright Royalty Board”? You’re not alone. One of the biggest challenges is not only educating legislators about how songwriters earn a living, but singers themselves.

“There’s a tremendous lack of interest from younger artists — you typically have to have lived through a certain amount of experiences in this business before you get wise to how the business operates,” said Marc Broussard, a pop-soul singer who will release his ninth studio album this week. “The younger artists, it’s not on their radar, so we definitely have massive challenges in addressing these issues.”

Broussard, along with country singer Ryan Kinder, visited Capitol Hill on Wednesday to lobby members of Congress about the royalties issue. It all culminated with a songwriter showcase event hosted by the National Music Publishers’ Association, on the roof of 101 Constitution Ave. NW, with the Capitol looming in the background.

“I’ve been making music for a living for a long time, and for me to feed my family requires me to stay away from my family for eight to nine months out of the year. I would really appreciate it if you guys could figure this whole royalties situation out,” Broussard told the crowd. “Make things a little easier on me!”

Before Kinder performed his new single, “Close,” he promised not to talk about legislation during his performance, but hoped everyone realized the impact of music in their lives — and the importance of fairly compensating the people who wrote all of those songs.

“Songwriters are the stenographers of our lives, and without them, you wouldn’t have that memory,” Kinder said. “It’s time to change some things.”