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Recording Academy Asks Congress to Assist Music Community, Particularly Freelancers, Impacted by Coronavirus

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STEVEN LAWTON/FILMMAGIC

As the music industry reels from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the Recording Academy today appealed to Congress to “protect our nation’s musicians, performers, songwriters, and studio professionals,” particularly “self-employed gig workers,” who are impacted by the loss of income due to concert cancelations and other hardships.

The upshot of the letter, addressed to Senate leaders Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell and House leaders Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy, reads:

“As Congress considers emergency steps to provide critical support to American workers and families, it must extend such support to self-employed gig workers like those in the music community. Including these non-traditional workers in a stimulus package will give hundreds of thousands of individuals and their families the financial assistance they need during this crisis.

“These music makers generally work as self-employed freelancers or independent contractors,” it continues. “They work from project to project, and are not engaged in typical employer-employee relationships. They do not have the benefits of an employer-provided safety net such as sick leave or health care. And they are not eligible for unemployment benefits. Music is the original ‘gig economy.’” The letter, dated Tuesday, is signed by acting Academy president/CEO Harvey Mason Jr.

While numbers and dollar amounts are not immediately available, the music industry has been battered by the pandemic, with nearly all tours and festivals cancelled and postponed, and the labels were further impacted Tuesday when Amazon announced that it is prioritizing its incoming inventory for the next several weeks and will stop accepting new shipments of vinyl and CDs.

The Academy’s charitable wing, MusiCares, on Tuesday announced the COVID-19 Relief Fund to help people in the music industry affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and subsequent cancellation of thousands of music events. According to the announcement, the fund, administered through MusiCares, will be used to directly support those in the music community with the greatest need. To establish the fund, both the Recording Academy and MusiCares have contributed an initial donation of $1 million each, totaling $2 million. Additionally, all Recording Academy Chapters have committed to fundraising in their local communities.