Music Creators Unite To Lobby US Congress On Music Modernisation Act 20/04/2018 by Emmanuel Legrand for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)WASHINGTON, DC — What better way to get the music community’s message across than sending an army of creators to meet with policymakers. In a nutshell, that’s the purpose of Grammys on the Hill, an initiative from the Recording Academy, which organises the prestigious US music awards, and which has also developed a strong advocacy activity. Guests join Little Big Town onstage during Grammys on the Hill Awards Dinner on April 18, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Leigh Vogel/WireImage for The Recording Academy ) Grammys on the Hill is a yearly event started 20 years ago as a way to alert Congress to the problems faced by music creators. It has now grown into one of the most important events on the advocacy agenda of music creators. The event is two-fold: an award show that celebrates “champions of creative rights,” from the policymakers side and also the artists’ side; and a whole day of lobbying on the Hill, with dozens of music creators walking the corridors of Congress to meet with policymakers. This year’s event took place April 18-19. “I come here because I have a sense of responsibility towards my fellow peers in the music industry and I find important to lend my voice and influence to achieve more progress for creators,” music producer Rodney Jerkins told Intellectual Property Watch. Two-time Grammy winner Jerkins, who has worked with such artists as Michael Jackson, Rihanna and Lady Gaga, has already participated four times in Grammys on the Hill. “As much as we fight for our own rights, I believe that I am fighting for my daughter’s rights, for the rights of future songwriters and for the next generation of talent,” Jerkins added. “I have been blessed to make a great living from music but now, with the changes in the industry, if we don’t fight, talented people won’t have a chance. A change is due.” Jerkins is among the 40 artists who made the trip to Washington, DC, alongside singer, songwriter and producer Peter Asher, singer/songwriter Marc Broussard, Brann Dailor and Bill Kelliher of metal band Mastodon, hip hop record producer Patrick “9th Wonder” Denard Douthit, John Driskell Hopkins of the Zac Brown Band, Grammy-nominated country music artist Jack Ingram, singer/songwriter and entertainer Robert Earl Keen, singer/songwriter Lisa Loeb, songwriter and performer Erika Ender, and keyboardist Ben Tanner of blues rock band Alabama Shakes, among others. “I am here to tell [policymakers] what I do for a living,” said Erika Ender, who co-wrote ‘Despacito’, the biggest hit of 2017, and who participated for the first time in Grammys on the Hill. “The music industry was taken by storm by technology and we need to look at how we can be compensated. It is important to pass a message and talk about what must change.” Another first-timer is Alabama Shakes’ Ben Tanner, who said it was a “once in a lifetime opportunity to get involved in that process.” He added, “The industry has changed but the law has not changed. It needs to adapt so that we can keep the industry viable again. It’s about the things we can do to keep making music and be compensated.” This year, the ceremony celebrated Rep. Judy Chu from Pasadena, California, founder of the Creative Rights Caucus at the House, and Rep. Doug Collins, one of the original co-sponsors of the Music Modernisation Act, for “their work on improving the environment for music by advocating for music creators’ rights.” Country music band Little Big Town was also honoured for their “contributions to the music industry.” The unique nature of the event was obvious when at the end of the ceremony, alongside dozens of policymakers, the former Democrat speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader was rubbing shoulders with the Republican Chair of the House Judiciary Committee Bob Goodlatte, dancing and singing to ‘Boondocks,’ a hit performed live by country act Little Big Town. Neil Portnow, Chairman/CEO of the Recording Academy, told Intellectual Property Watch that one of his first decisions when appointed at the Academy in 2002, was to ramp up the advocacy activities of the organisation. “I felt clearly that there was no organisation representing properly the creative community,” he explained. “And we represent artists, performers, songwriters, producers, engineers, the whole eco-system. So I decided to focus on advocacy and make it a part of our mission.” As a result, in 2002, the DC office of the Academy was transformed into an advocacy chapter for the organisation, with Daryl P. Friedman, chief industry, government & member relations officer for the Recording Academy, at the helm. Unlike previous events in the past years, this year’s ceremony took place in a context that is more favourable to songwriters, performers, composers, producers and engineers, with the vote 32-0 by the House Judiciary Committee of the Music Modernisation Act, that would reform music licensing, introduce digital performance rights for pre-1972 recordings and create a new royalty benefitting music producers and engineers for the digital use of recordings they took part in. “Years of lobbying has paid off,” said Friedman, welcoming on 18 April some 60 members of Congress and as many artists in the room, at the Hamilton theatre in Washington, DC. “Now Congress has a bill that will support you all.” He added that if passed, the MMA would bring “fairness, prosperity and harmony” for the next 20 years. In her acceptance remarks, Judy Chu said she created the Creative Rights Caucus to support “one of the USA’s greatest exports” and to educate fellow elected representatives of the importance of intellectual property rights. The Caucus now counts 50 members from all sides of the political spectrum. “It is bipartisan because music does not have a political party,” she said, adding the “Grammys on the Hill really makes a difference” in exposing policymakers to the realities of the lives of music creators. Chu noted that the MMA will address a series of issues, such as royalty payments for the digital exploitation of pre-1972 recordings. She named Darlene Love, a performer from the 1960s, one of her constituents, who has to continue to perform live because her pre-1972 recordings are not eligible for performance rights. “We all must work together to make sure that the Music Modernisation Act passes the House, passes the Senate and gets signed into law,” she said to an applauding crowd. A similar message was offered by Rep. Collins who in his acceptance speech recalled the genesis of the whole legislation. “We’ve worked tirelessly on what became the Music Modernisation ACT,” he said “We started years ago with the Songwriter Equity Act. We’ve spent literally almost a thousand hours in my office just over the past year, bringing together diverse members of the music community.” Addressing the artists in the room who the following day would walk the corridors of Congress to lobby in favour of the MMA, Collins told them that their best story line was simply their stories. “There’s nothing I can tell you to do except go to the Hill and tell your story,” he said. The message was not lost on the band Little Big Town, whose member Karen Fairchild told policymakers in the room: “I don’t envy you for the weight of the world on your shoulders in representing all of us, but tomorrow is an easy thing,” she said. “It’s easy to take care of the people who have given you the anthems of your life.” Image Credits: Leigh Vogel/WireImage for The Recording Academy Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Emmanuel Legrand may be reached at email@example.com."Music Creators Unite To Lobby US Congress On Music Modernisation Act" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.