NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Nashville is a town built on songs, but during the transition to online streaming, songwriters lost a lot of their revenue streams, and now it's hard for many songwriters to make a living.
"It's just a tough time to be a songwriter," Waylon Payne said.
Payne has cuts on Lee Ann Womack's new album, Miranda Lambert's most recent album, and many other albums. He said while 15 years ago a cut on an album may have provided a good revenue stream, that isn't true today.
"Spotify is a great thing, but the songwriters aren't making the money, it's whoever is holding that master," Payne explained.
In a town of songwriters, that's a problem.
"You might have hundreds of millions of streams, and the songwriter would probably make a hundred bucks," Steve Bogard, president of Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), said.
Bogard has been fighting for more fair pay for songwriters and to update antiquated laws for about 20 years, all while continuing to to write hit songs for artists such as Dierks Bentley and George Strait, and on Wednesday, a big step forward was taken in Washington.
Tennessee senator Lamar Alexander, along with senator Bob Corker and six others, introduced the Music Modernization Act.
"It lets us control the licensing process where the streaming services have done that before, and it gives us a new rate standard," Bart Herbison, NSAI executive director, explained.
In layman's terms: It gives songwriters more of a say, and in the long run, it should allow them to be paid more for the songs they write.
"It won't change things overnight, it's not a windfall, but it will change the way things work," Bogard said.
The act still needs to be passed through committee before reaching the House and Senate floor, but NSAI officials believe the Act will be made into law thanks to the hard work of all entities involved.