The Nashville Songwriters Association International Wednesday night gave U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander its “White Hat Award” for his leadership in enacting a new federal law helping make sure songwriters are paid a fair market value for their work. Last year in a White House ceremony, President Trump signed the Music Modernization Act, which Senator Alexander introduced. The senator said it is “the most significant change in copyright law affecting songwriters in a generation.”
“Senator Lamar Alexander is a hero to American songwriters,” said Bart Herbison, executive director of Nashville Songwriters Association International. “We would not have passed the Music Modernization Act without his efforts. He's always understood that 'It all begins with a song,' has fought for songwriters and been a champion and advocate for the profession.” Mr. Herbison said that the songwriters have given their “White Hat Award” only about 15 times in their 52 year history.
During a ceremony at the Ryman Auditorium Wednesday, Mr. Herbison presented Senator Alexander with a white Stetson hat to symbolize the award given “to an individual who has significantly served the interests of the songwriting community.”
Senator Alexander said, “Last Saturday at the Bluebird Cafe, I heard a new song by Will Duvall, Ryan Larkins and J.R. McCoy. Its name is ‘The King of Country Music, is the Song.’ That made me think that the name of this new law really ought to be ‘The Songwriters’ Law’ because Nashville songwriters made it happen. Bart Herbison, Steve Bogard, Lee Miller, so many of you trooped up to Washington, D.C. and reminded Congress that it all starts with a song, that somebody has to write the song, and that it is only right that you get paid a fair market value for your work. Our success was the result of most parts of the music industry – songwriters, publishers, digital music companies and broadcasters – working together on what they agree on instead of fighting over what they disagree about."
Senator Alexander introduced the Music Modernization Act with Senator Hatch (R-Utah) in the U.S. Senate on May 10, 2018, and the president signed the bill into law on Oct. 11, 2018. The new law creates a new, simplified licensing system to make it easier for digital music companies to obtain a license for songs. The simplified system will also ensure that songwriters are paid the royalties they are owed. In addition, the law revises outdated songwriter royalty standards to ensure songwriters are paid a fair market rate for their work.
Click here for a video of Senator Alexander welcoming the Nashville Songwriters Association International to his Washington office in May, where they discussed the impact the new law will have on songwriters in Nashville and across the state.