Ronald Reagan had a saying that politicians should either see the light or feel the heat. Chances are members of Congress will be feeling more heat after Thursday's announcement the Recording Academy is restructuring to better get its points across to politicians in Washington.
Team leaders of advocacy and member services departments will report as one combined unit to Daryl Friedman, who has been promoted to the newly created position of Chief Industry, Government, & Member Relations Officer. Nancy Shapiro, who previously led the member services group, will lead Academy initiatives across all divisions as the Senior Vice President of Special Projects.
The Academy says it will work more closely with members of its 12 local chapters to help creators communicate with their representatives. "It's a really talented staff. It's just about making the two pieces work more efficiently together," Friedman tells Billboard.
The first effort under the new structure will be the second Grammys in My District in the fall. Friedman says Recording Academy members visited a third of Congress in their local offices in its first year. He believes the new structure will allow Recording Academy members to contact all members of Congress while home for recess.
"This is probably the most important time for music policy in a generation or longer," Friedman tells Billboard, referring to the current effort in Congress to update music licensing and copyright laws. He says the idea to bolster the Academy's advocacy came from president Neil Portnow after he testified before a House subcommittee hearing in June. Portnow wanted to create a stronger voice for the interests of the recording artists, songwriters, producers and other members of the Academy.
If ever there were a time to boost advocacy, it's now. The thorough review has set the stage for updates to the Copyright Act that could alter many of the ways music is licensed and how creators are paid royalties -- and what royalties they receive -- could change. Some changes will help create a more efficient digital music marketplace. Others will determine how music services and creators split pools of money.
The two-year review of copyright law concluded Wednesday with testimony by Maria Pallante, Register of Copyright and Director of the United States Copyright, before the House Judiciary Committee. Among the changes favored by the Copyright Office, which advises Congress on these matters, are market-based rate setting standards -- especially prized by publishers -- and a performance right for sound recordings that would pay royalties to record labels.
Copyright can be a challenging topic that laypersons strain to understand. But Friedman says Academy members have been actively following the events in Washington and understand what's at stake. "Everybody wants to know more. Everybody wants to effect change. They just need a mechanism."