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Don Henley, Dave Matthews, Irving Azoff & More Industry Leaders Form Coalition Lobbying for Artists' Rights

Dave Matthews
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Dave Matthews at Arena Ciudad de Mexico on Oct. 5, 2019 in Mexico City, Mexico. 

The Music Artists Coalition advocacy group will fight for creators' interests in the digital space.

Don Henley, Dave Matthews, Maren Morris, Anderson.Paak, Meghan Trainor, Shane Mcanally and Earth, Wind & Fire’s Verdine White are among a group of artists banding together to form the Music Artists Coalition (MAC), a new organization established to advocate for and protect artists’ rights. 

They are joined by a number of high level managers -- including Irving Azoff, Coran Capshaw and John Silva -- on the board, which also includes industry executives and attorneys Jordan Bromley, Jim Cicconi, Kristen Foster, Susan Genco, Elliot Groffman and Ali Harnell.    

“Artists decide their musical fate every time they write a song or step on stage. Their true fate -- the ability to protect their music -- is being decided by others … bureaucrats, government legislators, and the powerful digital gatekeepers,” longtime artists’ rights advocate Henley tells Billboard in a statement. “We are forming the Music Artists Coalition to ensure that there is an organization whose sole mission is to protect the rights of music artists -- performers and songwriters.”

A main goal of the coalition will be to educate and give artists, songwriters and other creators a voice in the many issues that determine how they are compensated in the complex digital landscape. Among the first areas of business are the Copyright Royalty Board rate increase, which has come under fire from several digital service providers; the formation of the Mechanical Licensing Collective under the Music Modernization Act; and the reform of safe harbor protections. In addition to national efforts in Washington, D.C. -- where MAC is already in the process of selecting a lobbyist -- the coalition will also weigh in on various state legislation and policies that impact artists. 

“Emerging artists deserve the same opportunity that many of us had -- to be able to make a living creating music. It’s important for today’s musicians to pave the way for those in the future,” Matthews said in a statement. 

Azoff sees MAC as the artists’ equivalent to the National Music Publishers’ Association, which represents music publishers, and the Recording Industry Association of America, which represents major labels, according to an interview he gave to Bloomberg breaking the news.

“Artists don’t really have a seat at any table,” he said. “Just the fact that we have a powerful group of people will scare everyone else to the table.”

He added in a statement: “We have a responsibility to protect the people who write the songs and create the music. MAC will be the voice and defender for all music creators.”