Squilla targeted in social media firestorm over measure on musicians

 Philadelphia City Councilman Mark Squilla is pictured in this NewsWorks file photo (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Philadelphia City Councilman Mark Squilla is pictured in this NewsWorks file photo (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

A Philadelphia councilman says a bill he designed to help the music industry has been misunderstood.  

Musicians and promoters are up in arms and burning up social media in reaction. Meanwhile, a march on City Hall is now planned for next week

“It’s been exciting,” said Councilman Mark Squilla. “I’ve been trending. I think it’s good — you know, all news is good news.”

Over the past few days, Squilla said he’s been feeling the heat on social media about his bill involving licenses for venues currently using DJs, bands or even playing music from an iPod. 

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But it’s a big misunderstanding, he said.

“The intention of the bill was to close a loophole in there that allowed for streaming and music to be played in night clubs, dance halls without a special assembly license,” he said. “There was other language added for public safety issues to collect some names and addresses.”

That “artists’ registry,” as it’s been dubbed by bloggers, has musicians planning a Feb. 4 march on City Hall.  The legislation asks venue operators to to collect addresses and phone numbers for all DJs and bands that perform live, and share that information with police upon request.

Léa van der Tak of the Philadelphia DIY Music Collaborative said the bill — and plan for a registry — need to be killed.

“I believe it really hurts the huge community of budding young artists in our city, and it hurts small businesses who have already been struggling to remain afloat with the influence of corporate giants such as Live Nation,” said van der Tak.

Squilla has said he would remove the provision calling for a registry once hearings begin on the bill he proposed last week.

“There were some tweaks and some misconceptions that weren’t agreed on by me when we introduced it, so we already have amendments in the works,” the councilman said Thursday. “So these amendments and other concerns added will be sent out as a proposed amendment before the hearing so people can review it.”

Musicians and others said they hope that at the hearing Squilla will give a full explanation for why he wants to expand the need for  “special assembly licenses” to more venues.

Musicians have said their march will go on as scheduled.

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