When the music world convenes in New York this January, several key lawmakers will also make their way up to the Big Apple. On their agenda? Closed-door congressional briefings, set up by The Recording Academy, that typically include around a dozen politicians and up to 10 musicians. (Recent participants have included My Morning Jacket, songwriter Evan Bogart and Kelsea Ballerini.)
“It’s a unique conversation that you really don’t see anywhere else in music,” says Daryl Friedman, The Recording Academy’s chief industry, government and member relations officer, who has become instrumental in bolstering music’s relationship with Congress.
WHAT’S AT STAKE IN 2018
The upcoming year will mark the end of Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s term as the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which oversees copyright laws that govern royalties. Some have stood since 1909. “We’re moving something called the AMP [Allocation for Music Producers] Act, which would ensure that producers get their digital performance royalties in a fast, transparent, accurate and direct way, so that they can get paid when the song they produce gets played on digital radio,” says Friedman.
LEVELING THE PLAYING FIELD
There’s no greater issue facing the industry, argues Friedman, than compensation. “Whether it’s radio or streaming services — which sometimes don’t pay anything to older artist recordings — to the on-demand services, we want to make sure songwriters have as much of a chance to negotiate a fair rate as they would if they didn’t have the constraints of these decades-old laws.”
MAKE LIKE SLASH AND GET INVOLVED!
The past five years have seen a groundswell of industry interest in The Recording Academy’s efforts. “Ten years ago, this kind of program at the Grammys would [go over] like pulling teeth,” says Friedman. “Today, we have no problem. Slash is coming in next week to speak with Congress.”
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