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Will you identify yourself for the stenographer and give your address and capacity in which you now appear?
STATEMENT OF BOB MERRILL, NEW YORK, N. Y.
Mr. MEFRILL. My name is Bob Merrill. My address is 41 East
. Eighty-sixth Street, New York City.
Mr. Bryson. For whom do you speak?
Mr. MERRILL. Yes; an author and composer. I write both the words and the music to my compositions. I write alone.
Mr. Brysen. For the benefit of those of us who are in the backwoods, will you give us the names of some of your more prominent compositions ?
Mr. MERRILL. Yes, sir. This is covered immediately in the statement. Shall I go on?
Mr. Bryson. Yes; go ahead. We want to conserve time.
I have been a member of the society since 1919. I have also been a motion-picture director, the supervisor of NBC's writing staff in Hollywood. I was one of the four executive producers with CBS in the reorganization of their commercial broadcasting television schedule. I am writing music now, and along with that I am a television producer.
It so happens that many of the songs I have written have had a great vogue in jukeboxes and have contributed thousands of dollars in the form of nickels to the distributors and operators of jukeboxes as well as to the establishments where the boxes are placed by the operators.
Among my compositions are such current popular songs as My Truly, Truly Fair; Sparrow in the Tree Top; and Belle, Belle, My Liberty Belle.
Mr. Goodwin. I want to say that for the past 10 days since I have been a bachelor here in Washington I have been getting my dinner each night at a restaurant where there is a jukebox with the remotecontrol jiggers around the aisle. I noticed that perhaps for the 45 or 50 minutes that I have been in there each evening two songs have been sung most often, My Truly, Truly Fair and Belle, Belle, My Liberty Belle.
M". MERRIIL. Thank you, and I am very honored, sincerely. I think the only song I have perpetrated against my country was last year, If I Knew You Were Comin' I'd've Baked a Cake.
I wrote Why Does It Have To Rain on Sunday?, Lover's Gold, and Candy and Cake. All these songs except one have been on the hit parade, and these have been written in the last 2 years. I have had a pretty freak phenomenal run.
I am a newcomer in my profession. In my previous experience as a motion-picture director and in my present capacity as a television producer, I am aware that whenever a copyrighted literary or musical work is used, an arrangement is made with the author or copyright owner under which, for a consideration, a license is given to use the particular work.
Now, this is taken for granted by the motion-picture industry, the television industry, and by those who are engaged in presenting live entertainment on the stage or in hotels, restaurants, and night clubs. When my recorded music is presented through mechanical means by wired music piped in from a central source to an establishment such as a restaurant or other place which employs music as a means of attracting its patrons and encouraging them to spend money, I am paid.
In the latter case my royalties are collected not from the establishment where the loud speaker is located, but from the source, such as Muzak, which makes it possible for each individual establishment to use my compositions.
As I understand it, H. R. 5473 would place the distributor and operator of jukeboxes in the same position as the owner of Muzak or similar purveyors of entertainment through mechanical means. But for the copyrighted music which is played in jukeboxes, none of the income which accrues to the jukebox industry from the deposit of nickels, and to the establishment as a result of increased patronage, would be possible.
Other industries which rely on music for a very substantial part of their income recognize that writers must be encouraged to create new material to supply the demands of the public and that this encouragement must come from the royalties paid by those who profit from the use of their works.
Indeed, that is our national policy as expressed in the Constitution of the United States, which provides that in order to encourage the creation of works Congress shall pass laws giving to authors the exclusive rights in their writings for limited periods of time.
It is only to the extent that these laws are effective that people will be encouraged to write the Nation's songs rather than to follow other pursuits. If the writing of songs were not a profitable vocation, I would have to devote all my time to other fields.
The present copyright law of 1909 was enacted long before I was born. I understand that at that time composers derived their royalties mainly from sales of sheet music. The royalties from that source were very substantial and assured an author of an income over a period of several years because songs were popular then for that period of time. Today, songs have a very short life, particularly so far as the sales of sheet music are concerned, and the sales are very limited. In view of the present mechanization of music and the widespread use of electrical means of mass communication, an author's income is derived primarily from the performance of his works. I am paid for the uses of my songs in television, in radio, in wired music, as well as for performances in restaurants and night clubs. My royalties from all those fields for the past 2 years for all my compositions have averaged $139.07.
No one knows how many nickels have been put into jukeboxes to hear my songs played.
The distributors and operators of jukeboxes have paid nothing to me for these commercial uses, yet they would have no income but for the works contributed by writers such as myself. We ask only that we be given the same treatment by the jukebox industry we receive from other industries that derive their profits from the use of our works. It is hoped that H. R. 5473 will result in fairer compensation to the writers.
Now, gentlemen, last night-and I mean this sincerely-I got off the train in Union Station. I have never been to Washington before, and I am going to present myself as a patriotic young man. I was completely overwhelmed by the Capitol and Union Station and the general atmosphere of this city. I walked upstairs to my room and I wrote some other things, and I wish you would bear with me. If I get emotional, forgive me, because I feel very deeply about this.
This is sort of off the cuff. Songs have a tremendous impact on our American life and I think it is a sad commentary on the cultural future of this Nation when only the meagerest handful of young writers can earn'even a bare existence creating American music.
Who knows but what we have already starved out a man whose music would have brought millions of Americans back into the church, or glorified American life to the rest of the world, or, God forbid, a man who would write America's battle hymn with which to rally against an aggres or who perils its very existence.
You know you have heard people who ask someone, “Why did you fall in love?" and the answer in many cases will be that they were playing that song. You will say to a man, “Why did you enlist?" and he will say, “I don't know. The band was playing 'Stars and Stripes Forever.”
You have 11 men on a football team who will be completely exhausted, but they will get up and play again because the band is playing their alma mater song:
I have never been to the State of Oklahoma, but I know of the word “Okie.” Wherever I have seen “Okie” portrayed in motion pictures and books, it was presented as a stretch of waste that even God was ashamed of.
Then Oscar Hammerstein and Richard Rodgers wrote a song called Oklahoma, and in the song they talked about Oklahoma wheat smell. ing in the rain like it does. They wound up by saying, “You are doing fine, Oklahoma, Oklahoma, Okay."
You know, I would rather walk down a dirt road in Oklahoma than the Rue de la Paix in Paris. I think Hammerstein did more to create good will for the State than if their own chamber of commerce had spent millions on the project.
Incidentally, a little over a year ago, the No. 1 song in America's Hit Parade, the song that all your children were singing up and down the country and listening to, was a thing called The Sabre Dance. This is in answer to Congressman Rogers when you said and you treated it facetiously because you smiled—you said, “What do writers expect us to do, put out our arms and enfold them?”
Mr. ROGERS. Let us back up a minute about this question of my treating it facetiously. I think I asked the question, and if I gave you the impression that it was facetious, I want you to remove that from your mind because we as Members of this Congress have a duty and responsibility to delve into the facts of every bill that is presented and it is only for the purpose of analyzing this bill that my question was asked, and if my smile reflected facetiousness to you, tlien I want you to remove that from your mind and not have it to the point that when I do smile and ask you a question that you consider it fi cetious. So, I resent that statement.
Mr. MERRILL. I am sorry, sir. I truly am. I told
that I am speaking from emotion.
Mr. ROGERS. Then do not let your emotions get away from you. Mr. MERRILL. All right. I am sorry, sir. I sincerely apologize.
The point I was trying to make, Congressman, was that maybe the country should put its arm out and around these people.
This is a free-enterprise Nation, but many nations in this world subsidize writers.
For instance, the No. 1 song I am talking about is the song called The Sabre Dance. All America was singing it and yet it was written by a man named Khatchaturian, who toured the world and told everybody if it were not for the opportunity the Soviet Union gave him he could not have written this work of art.
I do not know how much bearing that has on this particular case, but there is a man who was helped by his government. Now let me go on. What I am trying to do is
What I am trying to do is prove the influence of music on the peoples of this Nation. There is not a person in the country whose opinion is not molded by movies, by radio or television, and an overwhelming proportion of this output is music. An American song is a leading emissary abroad. It carries with it a sample case of American culture and custom and as a young member of an organization such as ASCAP, I am so proud of people like Cohan and Gershwin, and the Berlins and the Rodgers and Hammersteins who have always presented American life to the rest of the world in its very best tradition and light.
Therefore, when an organization composed of men like these asks legislators not for a subsidy, not for charity, but for something they feel is rightfully theirs, I feel that these legislators are morally bound to help them and in a sense help our country and our culture.
These are the things I have been sitting here feeling. I am terribly sorry. "Facetiously” was only a poor choice of word.
Mr. ROGERS. All I know is that it was the word you used.
Mr. MERRILL. I am very sorry, sir. It is just that I did not think this was such a far-fetched idea of putting out your arm and helping creative people.
That is my statement, gentlemen. Mr. FORRESTER. You would not recommend that, would you? Mr. MERRILL. I certainly would not, sir. Mr. FORRESTER. As a matter of information, what countries subsidize their writers?
Mr. MERRILL. There were poets laureate. We do not have important poets today. It is a thing of the past. Most of our lyrics today are sold with melody, but they subsidize poets laureate. Of course, believe me,
I detest a government that is based on communism. Of course, we all do. The point I am making, sir, is that they think it is important enough to subsidize people to create their culture.
Now, thank the good Lord, we have been able to do it on a free-enterprise system and we have had beautiful examples of it.
Gershwin wrote some beautiful representative works of American life and the George M. Cohans and the Berlins.
But what I am saying, sir, is that it is so difficult for a young person -and if I am carried away up here, it is only the result of maybe 10 years of struggle and actual starvation to reach the point that I have.
That is why I am so moved by the thing. And, thank the good Lord, I came through.
Incidentally, you, Congressman, mentioned Belle, Belle, My Liberty Belle. This says some nice things about America and American people.
If I Knew You Were Coming, I'd ’ve Baked a Cake, is a gesture of warmth. It says, "let us sing songs, you are welcome in my house". This is a picture of the American home.
I believe if you think about this music it smacks of what we call American sound.
Mr. FORRESTER. I am interested in knowing what countries, if any, did subsidize.
Mr. MERRILL. Of course, the Soviet Union, I understand, does. I understand that France did. I know that Germany did.
Now, this does not speak very well for people who subsidize music, but we are not asking for a subsidy, sir. We feel, and that is why we are down here, that this money is honestly ours.
Mr. Rogers. You say this money is honestly yours. You mean the money I should put in a jukebox to hear one of your songs is your money or should be part of your money?
Mr. MERRILL. Yes, sir, I think so.
Mr. ROGERS. You made a remark in the first part of your statement that you recognize that authors, writers, are given protection for a certain limited time for the works that may be produced.
Do you realize the extent of that protection you are given ?
Mr. ROGERS. As a lay person, you know that when you get a copy-right you are the absolute owner of it?
Mr. MERRILL. That is right, I understand, for 56 years.
Mr. ROGERS. And you understand that the Congress of the United States has come to your protection for a limited number of years, that you can use that for whatever purpose you want?
Mr. MERRILL. I certainly do.
Mr. ROGERS. That whatever your interest and desire may be, you are not compelled under the laws of this country to relinquish that to anybody else unless you do so by your own free will?
Mr. MERRILL. That is right, sir.
Mr. ROGERS. That is one protection that the Congress of the United States has given writers, is it not?
Mr. MERRILL. Yes, sir.
Mr. ROGERS. And knowing that to be the protection, do you know you are free then to contact any music publisher you want and sit down and bargain with him in an American way to get the price
Mr. MERRILL. That is right, sir.
Mr. Rogers. And having that right, do you think that he is in a position to protect himself when he goes to make that sale ?
Mr. MERRILL, Yes, I do, sir.
Mr. ROGERS. Knowing that he can protect himself in that sale, do you think that the Congress should go further and say that he has another right in it if he should then and there sell it? What I mean