Songwriters, Well-Wishers Applaud CMT’s Restoration of Credits

It all began with a huff and ended with a hug. Today (April 16) was the day Nashville songwriters had agreed to march in protest of
CMT’s removal of songwriters’ names from its music videos. Instead, NSAI’s executive director, Bart Herbison, and CMT’s general
manager, Paul Hastaba, embraced in front of a crowd of around 250 gathered at a Music Row park to celebrate CMT’s decision to
restore the songwriter credits.

After having included songwriters’ names on its videos for many years, CMT dropped them on April 2 in a move that conformed with
the crediting practice of its sister music video networks, MTV and VH1. The move sparked a firestorm from Nashville songwriters,
music publishers and performance rights societies.

Addressing the crowd, Hastaba said, “During that [first] week — it was a very long week for me — I heard very loud and very clearly
from this very cohesive songwriting community here in Nashville. Although some of the e-mails were extremely eloquent and
appreciated, others of them were not so. Others were, ’Get your head out of your ass.’ That’s probably the only one I can repeat.”

“It takes real leadership to re-evaluate and reverse any decision or policy,” said NSAI president Mark Alan Springer. “CMT’s
willingness to recognize the importance of the songwriters is appreciated by this community. We want to be a supporting partner to
CMT and other companies and organizations in the music industry as we all work together to protect and to promote our music.”

“Frankly, if it weren’t for the credits [on music videos],” songwriter Gary Burr asserted wryly, “most of our families wouldn’t know we had jobs. There’s something about seeing your name on TV when it’s not followed by the Cops logo. It really comes down to this:
CMT was doing it right. MTV, VH1, they were doing it wrong. They didn’t understand the food chain. They didn’t understand the

Warming to his message, Burr continued, “We live in a country where millions of people think Nat King Cole was a genius because
he stood in a room for an hour and sang a song. But nobody out of those millions can tell you who wrote ’Mona Lisa’ or
’Unforgettable.’ Millions of people think Frank Sinatra’s a genius, but nobody can tell you who wrote ’Witchcraft’ or ’New York, New
York.’ That’s stupid. That’s wrong. The priorities are wrong. Those lonely guys sitting in their room in their underwear, those are the
guys who deserve to have millions know who they are.”

“I’m glad to be over here with you guys this morning, standing up and celebrating,” said Ed Benson, executive director of the Country
Music Association. “Some of you probably know that CMT’s industry relations offices are over there in the CMA building. I had this
vision this morning of you guys lying down in the driveway there and my having to drag [songwriters] Dickey Lee and Mark Sanders
out … I’m also excited about knowing what the future plans are for CMT as part of the MTV networks and what they’re going to be
doing over the next few years. It’s going to be instrumental to reinvigorating our business.”

Ted Harris, a founding member of NSAI, treated the crowd to a story about the pride of honest recognition: “One time there was an
unbridled package of enthusiasm known as a songwriter who kept approaching Roger Miller [and saying] ’Come on Rog, write a song
with me. Write a song with me, Rog.’ Finally, Roger got enough of it, and he turned around and looked him in the eye and said, ’Hey,
hoss, Picasso didn’t co-paint.’ I’m thankful today that CMT has seen fit to put the signatures back on the Picassos of country

Other speakers at the 45-minute-long event were legendary songwriter Danny Dill, ASCAP’s Connie Bradley, BMI’s Paul Corbin,
SESAC’s Dennis Lord, Metro Nashville council member Leo Waters, Atlantic Records’ president Barry Coburn, Sony/ATV/Tree
Music’s Donna Hilley, Warner/Chappell Music’s Tim Wipperman, songwriter Jim Collins (who first sounded the alarm about the
missing credits) and Songwriters Guild of America’s Rick Carnes.

Other songwriters on hand included Layng Martine Jr., Mark D. Sanders, Becky Hobbs and Dickey Lee.

Following the assembly, dozens of songwriters and their well-wishers marched around Music Row to celebrate their new alliance with

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to