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Grammys On the Hill Event Celebrates Little Big Town, Impending Copyright Legislation

Lawmakers from both parties finally came together last night -- if only onstage at the Recording Academy's Grammys on the Hill event, where they performed with Little Big Town.

Lawmakers from both parties finally came together last night — if only onstage at the Recording Academy’s Grammys on the Hill event, where they performed with Little Big Town.

Nancy Pelosi had some good moves and so did Bob Goodlatte,” Neil Portnow, the president of the Recording Academy, told Billboard, referring to the House Minority Leader and the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, respectively. Both members of Congress, as well as others, joined Little Big Town for its final song, “Boondocks.”

Having members of Congress join performers onstage for the last song of the evening has become a tradition at the annual Grammys on the Hill, which this year honored Little Big Town, as well as Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) for their work on behalf of music creators. Erika Ender (co-writer of “Despacito”) and country singer and producer Jerry Douglas also performed. Once again, the event was held downstairs at the Hamilton, a restaurant not far from Capitol Hill. More than 60 members of Congress attended, and Rep. Pelosi introduced Little Big Town.


Grammys on the Hill and the lobbying day that always follows the event are especially important this year because the Music Modernization Act is expected to come before Congress soon. Introduced last week in the House of Representatives, the bill soon passed unanimously out of the House Judiciary Committee, and it is expected to pass the House soon as well. It is expected to face more opposition in the Senate, and SiriusXM Satellite Radio and some technology companies are still against some parts of the legislation. The bill would reconfigure the way mechanical royalties are distributed, require streaming services to pay for the use of sound recordings made before 1972, and change the way the Copyright Royalty Board sets other payments.

“We’re within sight of seeing it happen,” Rep. Collins told Billboard. “I feel like it will be signed by the president later this year.”

Rep. Chu, who co-founded the Creative Rights Caucus, told Billboard that some of her colleagues who heard she would be honored by the Recording Academy seemed to be under the impression that she had won a Grammy Award. “They thought I had won for reading a book, like Obama,” who won the award for Best Spoken World album in 2006 and 2008 for narrating his books, Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope, she said. More seriously, she said, “The great thing about last night was that everyone was on board about passing the Music Modernization Act.”


Today, artists, songwriters and producers will meet with members of Congress to try to make sure that happens. “Earlier in the week we had some meetings with Senate staffers and they went quite well,” Portnow said. “The Senate side hasn’t been as focused on this, but the fact that it passed out of the Judiciary Committee unanimously gives it a lot of momentum.”

And how did the legislators do onstage? “I think that everyone had angelic voices,” Collins said with a chuckle.