Sep 28 2016

MUSIC COMMUNITY & ARTISTS TO CONGRESS: FIX THE DMCA

Remember watching the little orange AOL man walk across your screen as you waited to log on to the Internet? Hearing “You’ve Got Mail” upon entering the World Wide Web was a cultural phenomenon that excited everyone lucky enough to be granted access – until you were booted off when someone answered the phone. What a new and fickle technology the 1998 Internet was!

Naturally, this fickle technology has evolved tremendously in the past 18 years. And as we all know, so have the many ways in which music is distributed online. Unfortunately, a digital piracy law enacted by Congress way back in 1998 is still on the books today, but with the opposite intended effect. This antiquated law – called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) – places an undue burden on creators by forcing them to police the entire Internet for instances of theft while unfairly favoring technology companies and rogue pirate sites. Perhaps searching for and taking down links to illegal uploads was possible back in 1998 when getting online required a landline and a prayer, but not so for today’s sophisticated Internet (the musicFIRST coalition, a broad-based coalition of artist and industry groups, has its clever take on the issue here).

Further, the DMCA has propagated an unfair licensing regime where some of the biggest ad-supported music services like YouTube pay artists and musicians peanuts, all while music consumption on those platforms has skyrocketed. The stark disparity between the meager music revenues from these services and the enormous amount of music consumption on them has been dubbed “the value gap.” In short, the DMCA has effectively helped enrich big tech companies who distribute music at the expense of artists and creators who have tirelessly worked to bring that music to life.

That’s why this past summer an unprecedented coalition of more than 500 artists – from superstars to independent artists spanning across all genres and generations – and 20 music organizations and companies signed an open letter to Congress decrying a broken DMCA. The open letter was published as advertisements in major Washington D.C. political publications, coming at a critical time as U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte is reportedly planning to soon unveil reforms to U.S. copyright law. “As songwriters and artists who are a vital contributing force to the U.S. and to American exports around the world, we are writing to express our concern about the ability of the next generation of creators to earn a living,” reads the letter. “The DMCA simply doesn’t work…We ask you to enact sensible reform that balances the interests of creators with the interests of the companies who exploit music for their financial enrichment. It’s only then that consumers will truly benefit.”

As we all know, the music industry is relatively small compared to the weight of Silicon Valley who would prefer to keep the DMCA as is. But a unified music community lending its voice to ask for reforms sends a powerful message to policymakers. It’s important to stand together to strengthen the music economy and create a healthier, more stable ecosystem for the next generation of singers, songwriters, and musicians.

Apr 26 2016

2016 Legislative Agenda

2016 Federal Appropriations Requests

Who We Are:

The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) is among the world’s largest arts education organizations, representing more than 60,000 music educators across the nation. Advocating at the federal, state, and local levels, the Association orchestrates success for millions of students nationwide and has supported music educators at all teaching levels, grades PreK-16, for more than a century.

The Music Education Policy Roundtable (MEPR) is a coalition spearheaded by the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), consisting of organizations such as the National Music Council who advocate for and support music education access for all children. MEPR believes that music education should be taught by certified music educators, delivering sequential, standards-based music education to all students across the nation, regardless of personal circumstance or background.

Overview of 2016 Requests:

With the recent passage and signing of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), NAfME and MEPR would like to take this time to thank Congress for passing this historic piece of legislation. The legislation’s enumeration of “music” as part of a “Well-Rounded Education” marks an unprecedented step forward for music education. As ESSA implementation gets under way, the most important request that our organizations can make is for Congress to fully fund this legislation. As such, the Roundtable has developed several specific appropriations requests, which we offer for consideration, as funding proposals begin to take shape in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives regarding the programs authorized within ESSA.

Roundtable Federal Legislative Recommendations:

APPROPRIATE FUNDING FOR ALL ‘WELL-ROUNDED’ PROGRAMS: The inclusion of “music” within the definition of a “Well-Rounded Education” in ESSA provides a significant number of opportunities for supporting access to music education at the state and local levels. The specific enumeration of music in statute further articulates music’s eligibility for Title I, Title II, and Title IV funding. In order to realize the vision of maximizing these new federal resources in support of music education, Congress must do all that it can to prioritize ESSA funding during the upcoming appropriations process. As such, we ask that Congress:

  • Support Access to Music Education for the Most Disadvantaged Students by Fully Funding Title I, Part A: Title I, Part A programs, both school-wide and targeted, are now available to provide supplemental funds for a well-rounded education, including music.
Funding History for Title I to LEAs (in millions)
FY 2015 FY 2016 FY 2017 President’s Request FY 2017 NAfME
Roundtable Request
$14,409.80 $14,909.00 $15,359.80 $15,359.80
(Authorized Level)

Under the new ESSA, the School Improvement Grants (SIG) were eliminated and states are now required to reserve 7 percent of Title I, Part A funds to support school improvement in the place of this elimination. In order to ensure school districts do not see a decrease in Title I, Part A allocations due to this reservation, we ask Congress to fully fund for Title I, Part A at its authorized $15.36 billion level, which is the combined total Title I, Part A and SIG program funding in FY16.

  • Support Professional Development for Music Educators by Fully Funding Title I, Part A, Title II, Part A and Title IV, Part A and F: These funds may be used to support professional development for music educators, as part of supporting a “Well-rounded Education.”
  • Supporting Effective Instruction, Title II, Part A (formerly, Teacher Quality Program)
Funding History (in millions)
FY 2015 FY 2016 FY 2017 President’s Request FY 2017 NAfME
Roundtable Request
$2,349.83 $2,349.83 $2,250.00 $2,290.00
(Authorized Level)
  • Assistance for Arts Education (formerly, Arts in Education), Title IV, Part F
Funding History (in millions)
FY 2015 FY 2016 FY 2017 President’s Request FY 2017 NAfME
Roundtable Request
$25.00 $27.00 $27.00 $30.00

Our music educators deliver an important role in enabling student success. Appropriate funding levels for these programs provide unique federal support for professional development for our educators and bolster the skills development they need to provide a high-quality music education for our nation’s students, part of Congress’ vision of a “Well-Rounded Education.”

  • Support Access to Music Education as Part of a Well-Rounded Education by Fully Funding Title IV, Part A:
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    Under Title IV, Part A of ESSA, the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants (SSAEG) provides a new and clear intent to support our nation’s schools through a “Well-Rounded Education.” As such, this new competitive block-grant may be used in part to improve access to music education, and in turn, to support not only student success, but also the promotion of constructive student engagement, problem solving, and conflict resolution. In addition, other funds may be utilized to offer a broad array of enriched educational experiences, such as providing music to underrepresented, disadvantaged, and minority student populations.

  • Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants (SSAEG), Title IV, Part A
Funding History (in millions)
ESSA Authorized Level FY 2017 President’s Request FY 2017 NAfME
Roundtable Request
$1,650.00 $500.00 $1,650.00
(Authorized Level)

Despite being the third largest authorized program within ESSA, the President’s FY17 Budget request only recommends $500 million for the grant, less than one-third of its authorized funding level, which Congress agreed upon in a bipartisan manner. By significantly underfunding this program, it undermines the greater flexibility that Congress had intended for states and districts, and would not allow schools to make meaningful investments in critical areas of need, such as school music programs.

Mar 26 2015

Ask Congress to #StandWithSongwriters

The Songwriter Equity Act has been reintroduced. Take action now!

We are happy to report that Senators Hatch (R-UT), Whitehouse (D-RI), Alexander (R-TN), and Corker (R-TN) and Representatives Collins (R-GA) and Jeffries (D-NY) have recently reintroduced the Songwriter Equity Act in the new Congress.

This legislation, which was first introduced early last year, is important to music creators because it addresses two outdated sections of the US Copyright Act that currently limit your ability to get paid fairly when your music is streamed. We must deliver this message to Congress.

Background:
Songwriters, composers and music publishers rely on the royalty income they earn through two separate rights: the right to publicly perform their music works, and the right to make and distribute mechanical reproductions of those works.

Two outdated portions of the US Copyright Act, Section 114(i) and Section 115, currently prevent songwriters and composers from receiving royalties that reflect the fair market value of their intellectual property. This inequity harms America’s songwriters, composers and music publishers in the digital age.

To remedy this, SEA would allow a “rate court” to consider other royalty rates as evidence when establishing digital performance rates for songwriters and composers, and it would also adapt a fair rate standard for reproduction (mechanical) licenses.

Statement from ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams:

“The Songwriter Equity Act represents an important first step toward updating an outdated music licensing system that treats songwriters differently than other copyright owners and prevents us from earning a fair market royalty rate when our music is streamed or downloaded online. We are grateful to Senators Hatch, Whitehouse, Alexander and Corker and Representatives Collins and Jeffries for their efforts to attract bipartisan support for these simple and reasonable changes. They are vital to ensuring that next generation American songwriters are able to make a living creating the music we all love. We look forward to working with policymakers to reform the broader regulatory framework, including ASCAP’s outdated consent decree with the DOJ, so that music licensing better reflects the way people listen to music today.”

Click here to Take Action Now

Thank you in advance for your participation!

Mar 05 2015

NMC Supports NY State Music Tax Credit Legislation – Join Us in Our Advocacy Effort

Legislation is pending in Albany that would provide a tax credit for music that is created and produced in New York. The legislation was conceived by Brooklyn Assemblyman Joe Lentol, and is championed by a coalition called New York is Music. The National Music Council supports the measure, and encourages the music community – especially those residing in NY State – to demonstrate to Assemblyman Lentol and the coalition that we are with them. Sound your voice on this important issue. Join the coalition at http://p2a.co/hycLNat or by texting MUSIC to 52886. For further information, visit the links below:

NY Times piecehttp://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/08/business/media/music-industry-pushes-for-ny-tax-credits-like-film-industrys.html?_r=0

Lentol press releasehttp://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Joseph-R-Lentol/story/60250/

Current draft of legislationhttp://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/A1465-2015

Jan 26 2015

2015 LEGISLATIVE AGENDA

On January 13th the Music Education Policy Roundtable, a coalition of likeminded organizations and institutions, advocating for high quality music education in America’s schools, identified its legislative priorities for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
The Music Education Policy Roundtable has outlined these priorities for Congress: To create policies and teaching environments that give all students access to a well-rounded education which includes high quality instruction in music.

With the goal of soliciting bipartisan support to accomplish these goals on behalf of all students across America, the Music Education Policy Roundtable has identified five key areas of prioritization in this reauthorization:

I. STRENGTHENED STATUS: In order to strengthen the importance of music education in the law, for purposes of both garnering state-level funding and other forms of support, we ask that Congress maintain the core academic subject section in any reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

II. INCREASED ACCESSIBILITY: In order to ensure that even the most disadvantaged students have access to high quality music education programs no matter their personal circumstance or background, we ask that Congress strengthen language throughout any reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act so that it increases clarity as to the availability of such resources for use in this regard.

III. EQUITABLE TEACHER EVALUATION: In order to ensure that music educators are always evaluated by qualified individuals utilizing reliable measures germane to their discipline of study, and to make certain that ultimate accountability for all such measures is directly attributable to music teachers themselves, we ask that Congress offer language in any reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, recommending the institutionalizing of this practice.

IV. BALANCED ACCOUNTABILITY: In order to ensure that, in making school district accountability determinations, “well-rounded” factors, such as achievement in music, are considered, in addition to state assessment results in reading/language arts and mathematics, we ask that Congress recognize the reliability of such multiple measures of performance, in developing corresponding State plans, in any reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

V. ENHANCED TEACHER PREPARATION: In order to ensure that all federal granting opportunities for purposes of preparing, training, and recruiting high quality teachers and principals include a measure of consideration as to the importance of high quality music and arts education delivery abilities, we ask that Congress insert further clarifying language in any reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

The National Music Council is a member of the Music Education Policy Roundtable. 
For more information on the Roundtable and its legislative agenda, including the specific requests as they relate to ESEA Reauthorization, please visit the Roundtable’s website (http://www.nafme.org/take- action/music-education-policy- roundtable/).

Oct 09 2014

Music Education Policy Roundtable Lobbies 114th Congress

The Music Education Policy Roundtable, of which NMC is a member, has drafted the following letter to the 114th Congress. We encourage everyone to support these policies by writing letters of their own to legislators.

Dear Senator/Representative:

On the eve of the 114th Congress, and with the state of our nation’s prekindergarten-12th schools ever in the forefront of the minds of voters and candidates, we ask that you make classroom music education a priority in any legislation pertaining to education—from preschool development funding to reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

The Music Education Policy Roundtable, a coalition of 30 organizations standing together to promote music education for every U.S. student, uphold the following status for music education and seven legislative priorities:

  • Core Status: In order to ensure that all students receive a comprehensive education including sequential, standards-based music education as part of the core curriculum, we ask that Congress maintain the status of the arts as a core academic subject in any reauthorization of the ESEA.
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  • Evaluation: Congress and the U.S. Department of Education should offer guidance language recommending that music educators be evaluated on how well their students learn and achieve in their respective disciplines. Accountability for any and all such measures of evaluation should be directly attributable to certified music teachers. New evaluation systems should be developed in the context of the number of students being taught and instructional time available, limiting the use of data to reliable measures. Likewise, observation-based teacher evaluations should be limited to those conducted by individuals with expertise in music education.
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  • Research: Congress should mandate that the U.S. Department of Education develop and carry out the process of collecting and disseminating federal data pursuant to the status of music education programs in order to generally benefit the field, and to assist organizations working to accurately gauge the landscape and provide support to educators in areas of the country where music education is threatened.
  •  

  • Accountability: Congress should include in any re-authorization of the ESEA, accountability provisions that include a measure of and for student achievement in music, to be implemented in a manner that ensures fairness to all students.
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  • Funding: Congress should ensure that all appropriate federal funding streams authorized under the ESEA, particularly Title I monies, are made available for purposes of teaching music and for music education teacher training.
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  • Accessibility: Congress and the U.S. Department of Education should offer language acknowledging the nationwide trend of reduced school day time for music education programs, and recommending that this trend be reversed, via an increased focus on the delivery of comprehensive curricula of learning.
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  • Charter Schools: The U.S. Department of Education should offer guidance language to those involved in the development and administration of public charter schools, recommending that curricular decisions be made with an eye toward providing all students with a comprehensive education, including music taught by certified educators.
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  • Early Childhood Education: Congress should ensure that all appropriate federal funding for early childhood education, including but not limited to those funds made available under Head Start, Early Head Start, and the Child Care and Development Block Grant, as well as any proposed legislation, is made available for early music education and for purposes of early music education teacher training. Further, Congress and the U.S. Department of Education should issue guidance language clarifying the availability of funds under such programs for the purpose of early music education. 


    Please keep these priorities in mind as you clarify your positions on educational priorities during election season, and when you return to Capitol Hill in January. Our nation’s progress depends on the success of our students, and we know music education is a critical component of a complete education, preparing students for the 21st century workforce. 
Will you stand with us in these commitments to music education? We look forward to your statement of support.

     
    Click here for more information about the Music Education Policy Roundtable.