District Advocate 2017: Town Halls Encourage Songwriter Activism
In advance of the Recording Academy's 2017 District Advocate Day in Washington, D.C., members of the Academy's National Advocacy Committee, Chapter Board leadership, and Advocacy & Public Policy team hosted a series of Advocacy Town Halls around the country to discuss important topics germane to music creators.
Present at the Recording Academy's Los Angeles Chapter Advocacy Town Hall were GRAMMY-winning producers Rodney Jerkins and Om'Mas Keith, songwriter MoZella, and Todd Dupler, Senior Director Advocacy & Public Policy for the Recording Academy — all speaking to more than 100 attendees at L.A.'s iconic Village Studios.
Jerkins, Keith and MoZella painted a picture of the current industry landscape with regard to streaming service royalties and payouts — an increasingly unsustainable marketplace for creators. Meanwhile, Dupler pointed to the recent lobbying efforts by the Recording Academy, which succeeded in first saving, then increasing the funding for, the National Endowment of the Arts over the past year. The point being: Lobbying for legislative change and connecting with elected officials who have shown themselves to be allies of creators' political goals can and does work.
The panel also discussed legislation that may soon come to vote on the House floor, which could impact music creators in positive or negative ways. Of potential benefit are the Allocation for Music Producers Act and possible legislation for songwriters. The former would amend copyright law to assure that producers, engineers, and mixing/mastering professionals are able to earn digital royalties, while the latter would reform some of the more difficult aspects for compulsory license restrictions for musical works and compositions, making it easier for PROs to negotiate with music services on behalf of creators.
On the opposite side, the panel cautioned the Music Transparency Act (H.R. 3350), which could impose prohibitive barriers between songwriters and copyright protections — protections that creators across all other artistic fields enjoy as a basic right. The bill would, as Dupler asserted, "take away one of the only legal protections copyright owners have for their royalties."
Registration for District Advocate Day 2017 is now closed, but that doesn't mean you cannot still get involved.