Harvey Mason Jr. & Mindi Abair Named Co-Chairs of Recording Academy's National Advocacy Committee
The committee's initial focus will be passage of the Music Modernization Act.
The Recording Academy has named saxophonist/vocalist Mindi Abair and producer/songwriter Harvey Mason Jr. as co-chairs of its National Advocacy Committee.
They join last year’s co-chair, songwriter Sue Ennis, and fellow committee members Lalah Hathaway, Booker T. Jones and Nile Rodgers.
Additionally, John Poppo, producer and chair of the Board of Trustees of the Recording Academy; Recording Academy president/CEO Neil Portnow; and Daryl P. Friedman, chief industry, government & member relations officer of the Recording Academy, serve as ex-officio members.
The first order of business for this iteration of the committee, which was established in 2015, is to work on the passage of the Music Modernization Act, a comprehensive piece of copyright legislation that has passed the House of Representatives and the Senate Judiciary Committee and is waiting a vote by the full Senate.
The Recording Academy has been active in pushing for the bill’s passage, working closely with the bill’s lead advocates: Nashville Songwriters Association International, The Songwriters of North America and National Music Publishers Association.
Those pushing for the bill hope it will be voted on by Oct. 12, before the House of Representatives adjourns in advance of the Nov. 6 midterm elections. If not, the MMA will be the focal point of the Academy’s annual District Advocate Day on Oct. 24 when Recording Academy members meet with congressional representatives in their home districts in all 50 states. More than 2,000 music creators are expected to participate in the fifth annual District Advocate Day to discuss significant legislation matters.
"Music creators have witnessed the transformation of the music industry and they deserve a seat at the table," Portnow said in a statement. "They want their voices to be heard when decisions are being made that impact their careers and livelihood, and they know that 2018 is proving to be a landmark legislative year for them. The knowledge these leading creators bring ensures the Committee will continue to be an effective advocate for the next generation, while working to improve everyday lives of today's music creators."
For Mason, leading the committee with Abair felt imperative. “With everything that's happening in the music industry today, I feel strongly that advocacy is of critical importance to all music makers and a place to focus my efforts,” he tells Billboard. “Being a national trustee for the Recording Academy and serving as the co-chair of the Advocacy Committee allows me to help fight for real change in the way music creators get compensated. As it stands, it's really not fair whatsoever. We have some strong momentum but this is a really important time as it pertains to legislation and change on a federal level; it's an "all hands on deck' situation. I'm really excited and proud to be one of many hands pushing for improvement.”
Also on the docket for the Advocacy Committee are arts education funding, including California's Arts for Every Student Act, which allocates money for school arts education programs.
The committee's role also includes engaging and informing Recording Academy members and the music community about issues of concern to creators after the new Congress is elected in the mid-term elections.