U.S. Voters Say Free Market, Not Government Should Determine Songwriter Royalties

New survey finds strong bipartisan support for updating outdated federal regulations that govern how songwriters are compensated for their work

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - April 26, 2017) - Nearly two-thirds (64%) of American voters believe the free market should determine how much songwriters are paid instead of the federal government (10%) -- a majority opinion that holds across party lines, accordingly to a new survey conducted by Morning Consult and sponsored by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).

Recognizing that technology has fundamentally transformed the music industry over the past decade, two-thirds (66%) of voters surveyed say U.S. music licensing regulations should reflect the way people listen to music today, and two-thirds (65%) of voters support updating U.S. music licensing regulations to ensure songwriters have the ability to achieve fair compensation for the public performances of their work.

Among the survey's other key findings:

  • Voters have changed the way they listen to music, with half (50%) saying they now use a smartphone or tablet to listen to music more than they did 5 years ago, while majorities say they use CD players (50%) and cassette players (57%) less.
  • More than half (56%) of voters think it's unfair that, on average, it takes one million plays of a song on the top streaming services for a songwriter to earn about $170.
  • More than half (56%) of voters believe it's unfair that the regulations that impact how the majority of songwriters are compensated date back to the 1940s and haven't been updated since before the iPod hit stores in 2001.
  • Young voters 18-29 and voters who stream music are most likely to say regulations should reflect current listening trends, with 71% agreement among both groups.

"These findings indicate American voters understand the need to get the overreaching hand of government out of the business of regulating songwriter incomes," said Paul Williams, an award-winning songwriter who serves as President and Chairman of ASCAP. "In every other creative industry -- from TV and books to art and video games -- the value of copyrighted works is determined by the free market. That's why we're on Capitol Hill today, urging policymakers to stand with songwriters in support of reforms that will level the playing field for songwriters and protect their ability to continue creating the music we all love."

The Morning Consult poll was released in conjunction with ASCAP's Stand With Songwriters Advocacy Day, when representatives from ASCAP's more than 600,000 members meet with dozens of Members of Congress and their staff to discuss the challenges facing songwriters in the digital age and urge them to support reforms to modernize outdated U.S. music licensing regulations.

LINK TO SURVEY INFOGRAPHIC: #StandWithSongwriters Poll

Morning Consult conducted an online survey of 2,036 registered voters from April 11-14, 2017. Results have a margin of error of +/- 2%.

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) is a professional membership organization of songwriters, composers and music publishers of every kind of music. ASCAP's mission is to license and promote the music of its members and foreign affiliates, obtain fair compensation for the public performance of their works and to distribute the royalties that it collects based upon those performances. ASCAP members write the world's best-loved music and ASCAP has pioneered the efficient licensing of that music to hundreds of thousands of enterprises who use it to add value to their business -- from bars, restaurants and retail, to radio, TV and cable, to Internet, mobile services and more. The ASCAP license offers an efficient solution for businesses to legally perform ASCAP music while respecting the right of songwriters and composers to be paid fairly. With 600,000 members representing more than 10 million copyrighted works, ASCAP is the worldwide leader in performance royalties, service and advocacy for songwriters and composers, and the only American performing rights organization (PRO) owned and governed by its writer and publisher members. Learn more and stay in touch at www.ascap.com, on Twitter @ASCAP and on Facebook.

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ASCAP Polls Voters on Music Licensing Laws