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Self-Employed Music Workers, Songwriters Eligible For Grants/Loans In U.S. Federal Stimulus Bill

Posted by on March 26, 2020 at 3:18 pm

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One of the industries hit hardest by the affect of the coronavirus social distancing decree was live entertainment, and all the folks who work around live entertainment – like tour managers, bookers, bartenders, etc. These people do not work on salaries, they work when there is work to be done. If there are no shows, they are not earning money. With a huge $2 trillion stimulus package about to be approved by the federal government, Variety reports that musicians, song writers and folks working in the music industry would be eligible to apply for grants and loans.

Besides offering a one-time $1,200 payment to American adults who make under $75,000, and an additional $500 per child, the bill also puts over $350 billion aside to help small business and $500 billion for larger businesses and states. According to this Variety report, the language in the bill ensures that “sole-proprietors, independent contractors and self-employed”  are included in the stimulus, which is were music workers come in. Some music workers may even quality for unemployment as part of the provisions in the bill.

While this was not possible before, the current bill has a provision that covers self-employed small business owners, which would include everyone from songwriters to roadies. Self-employed individuals may be able to receive grants and loans as soon as next month, according to the report.

“Many music industry professionals are not eligible for traditional unemployment benefits because they are self-employed,” said Bart Herbison, Executive Director of the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI). “That’s why it was imperative that the federal stimulus package contain language that made them eligible for relief. Now they will be able to apply for immediate financial help for any income they’ve lost over the past few weeks and income they will lose throughout the rest of this year.”

“We are greatly relieved that songwriters, composers and musicians across the country will be helped by the emergency stimulus package passed by the Senate today,” said David Israelite, president/CEO of NMPA. “From paycheck protection and stimulus checks to grants that help with rent and mortgage payments, the legislation will help the creative community – particularly those who qualify as independent contractors, sole proprietors and self-employed – who have been hit hard by this pandemic." Dina LaPolt, a board member of SONA and top industry lawyer, said, “The United States represents 33% of the global music industry worldwide. We need laws that protect creators and ensure that they are protected from economic destruction.”

Mitch Glazier, chairman/CEO of the RIAA added “Access to unemployment insurance, small business loans and payment deferrals, and more funding for the NEA to provide relief to musicians, will ensure that hundreds of thousands of musicians can continue to pay rent, put food on the table, and care for their children during this public health crisis.”

While the fine details of the bill are still being assessed in Congress, you can keep up with Songwriters of North America's website, wearesona.com, as they will be updating it with info on how songwriters and music workers can apply once the bill is passed and ready to accept applicants.

You should also check with your local state government to see if they are offering small business grants, for example New York is already accepting applications for small business grants. Based on the application process in New York, you will likely have to prove a loss of income, possibly by comparing your earnings to 2019 tax returns.

Folks in Congress getting the nod for passing this approval include Rep. Ted Deutch, (D-FL), Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Reps. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Reps. Jerrold Nadler, Jim Cooper, Martha Roby, Zoe Lofgren, Sens. Marco Rubio, John Kennedy, and Dianne Feinstein.

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