Who's Who Among the Music Industry's Advocates on Capitol Hill

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Exterior of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

The movers and shakers among the policymakers.

Senate leaders on Aug. 10 introduced broad new legislation that will affect creators and how they get paid. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and six other members of the House of Representatives introduced the Music Modernization Act, the most important music copyright bill in a generation. The bill incorporates provisions of earlier legislative proposals (including an earlier version of the Music Modernization Act) that have drawn comment and involvement from throughout the music industry. Below is a selective list of the business executives who have made their voice heard in Congress.

Michael Beckerman
President/CEO, Internet Association
Beckerman’s organization represents most of the country’s biggest technology companies, as well as Spotify and Pandora. Its endorsement of the Music Modernization Act removed a major potential obstacle to that bill.

Richard James Burgess​
CEO, A2IM
The American Association of Independent Music sometimes disagrees with the RIAA, but Burgess has allied with the major labels and other organizations on copyright reform.

Rick Carnes
President, Songwriters Guild of America
Carnes’ organization negotiated changes to the Music Modernization Act that enabled it to announce its support for the bill in early February -- an important signal for legislators concerned about its effect on songwriters.

Ray Hair
International president, American Federation of Musicians International
As head of the American Federation of Musicians, Hair represents performers in negotiations. The AFM has limited influence in Washington, but its approval of legislation shows lawmakers that it will help musicians.

Chris Harrison
CEO, Digital Media Association
Harrison runs DiMA, which represents digital music companies and supports the Music Modernization Act, because it will offer a safe harbor from copyright-infringement lawsuits for statutory damages from 2018 onward. The organization is often at odds with the music business, so its support has been important.

Bart Herbison
Executive director, Nashville Songwriters Association International
Herbison runs this songwriters group, which supported the Music Modernization Act from the time of its introduction in Congress.

Michael Huppe
President/CEO, SoundExchange
SoundExchange was formed to collect payments from SiriusXM Satellite Radio and online radio services like Pandora for their use of sound recordings, and distribute them to labels and musicians. The new bill, which incorporates the CLASSICS Act, would expand the amount of royalties it could distribute. In recent years it has emerged from the shadow of the RIAA to become more influential in Washington.

David Israelite
President/CEO, National Music Publishers’ Association
The NMPA represents music publishers, both on Capitol Hill and in litigation and settlement negotiations with technology companies. Under Israelite, the NMPA has allied with other organizations to lobby aggressively for the Music Modernization Act, to give publishers more control over how mechanical royalties are distributed.

Dina LaPolt
Founder/owner, LaPolt Law
LaPolt, who runs her own law firm and has represented clients like Fifth Harmony, Steven Tyler and deadmau5, also advocates for songwriters in Washington, where she helped push the Music Modernization Act. In 2015, she formed Songwriters of North America with Michelle Lewis and Kay Hanley, and serves as the group’s attorney and adviser.

Michelle Lewis
Executive director, Songwriters of North America
Lewis and her songwriting partner Kay Hanley formed SONA in 2015 with LaPolt, and the group sued the Department of Justice the following year over its ruling on fractional licensing. Along with LaPolt, SONA advocated for the Music Modernization Act.

Elizabeth Matthews
CEO, ASCAP
Paul Williams
President/chairman, ASCAP​
The performing rights organization ASCAP has advocated for changes in music licensing laws for years, educating and mobilizing its 650,000 songwriters and publishers.

James Meyer
CEO, SiriusXM Satellite Radio
SiriusXM opposes the CLASSICS Act, under which digital audio services would pay performance royalties on pre-1972 sound recordings. The satellite broadcaster argues that since the new legislation does not apply to its terrestrial counterparts, it gives them an unfair business advantage.

Michael O'Neill
President/CEO, BMI
BMI, with 800,000 affiliates, won a major victory in 2017 when the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an important decision that allowed fractional licensing, under which songs with multiple writers require a license from all of the songwriters, or their representatives.

Neil Portnow
President/CEO, The Recording Academy
Daryl Friedman
Chief industry, government and member relations officer, The Recording Academy
Both its 24,000 members and the high profile of the Grammy Awards make The Recording Academy a force to be reckoned with, even without the lobbying muscle of the RIAA or NMPA. The passage of the new bill, which would incorporate the AMP Act, would be a historic win for its producer and engineer members.

Cary Sherman
Chairman/CEO, RIAA
Mitch Glazier
President, RIAA
Sherman, who has led the RIAA since 2011, worked to establish the right of labels and performers to get paid when their recordings are used by digital services, and extending this right to recordings made before 1972 has been an RIAA priority for years. Glazier, a two-decade RIAA veteran, will succeed Sherman as CEO in January.

David White
National executive director, SAG-AFTRA
Under White, SAG-AFTRA represents performers, including session musicians. Although it has limited influence on Capitol Hill, its approval of the newly drafted legislation could help reduce opposition.

A version of this article originally appeared in the April 14 issue of Billboard.


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