Photo: Eric Thayer/Getty Images
Music & Advocacy Primer: 7 Things To Watch In 2018
Are you looking to make a different kind of New Year's resolution for 2018?
If you're a music creator, how about making educating yourself on important issues affecting the music community a top priority?
Of course, sometimes it's difficult to keep your ear to the ground with regard to what's happening in our nation's capital and how it affects music creators.
From midterm elections, key departures and new appointments to music licensing, consent decrees and funding for the arts, here is a handy list of seven key music-and-advocacy storylines to keep your eye on in the Year of the Dog — straight from our Washington, D.C., Advocacy & Public Policy office.
1. Rep. Goodlatte's Last Year
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and a key supporter of intellectual property, will retire at the close of 2018.
In recent years, the Virginian conducted hearings on the state of our nation's copyright laws in addition to helming policy proposals that called for changes to the Copyright Office. Alongside Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and GRAMMY winner Alicia Keys, he was honored by the Recording Academy at the 2015 GRAMMYs on the Hill Awards.
"This is a natural stepping-off point and an opportunity to begin a new chapter of my career and spend more time with my family, particularly my granddaughters," said Goodlatte, a 13-term Congressman who has served as the committee's chairman for the last five years.
Goodlatte's departure begs the question: Which Republican will emerge as the front-runner for the party's top seat on the House Judiciary Committee?
2. Midterm Elections: Who Will Take Control?
Speaking of races, it's the biggest political question of the year. What's going to happen with the midterm elections on Nov. 6, 2018?
Depending on your news outlet of choice, the predictions are likely as varied as the GRAMMYs' 84 categories. While this past year has been eventful as far as politics go, it's difficult to prognosticate what the national political landscape will be like next November. But the facts remain: All 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives and 33 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate are up for grabs, and that looming uncertainty could shape the legislative agenda over the next 12 months.
3. Rep. Nadler: The New House Judiciary Top Dem
On Dec. 20 Rep. Jerrold Nadler emerged victorious in the race for the top Democratic spot on the House Judiciary Committee. Nadler bested challenger Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) by a final count of 118 to 72.
Nadler's appointment, which fills the seat vacated by former Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), could bode well for the music community this year. The former GRAMMYs on the Hill honoree is a longtime champion for music creators with credibility on music licensing issues thanks to his many years of experience as the leading Democrat on the House of Representatives' Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet.
"The Recording Academy looks forward to working with the Congressman in his prestigious position to advance this important legislation and advocate for a sustainable future for all music creators," said The Recording Academy's Daryl P. Friedman.
4. Music Licensing Legislation Ripe For Action
Several music licensing reform bills have been introduced into the House of Representatives, making 2018 ripe for action. First, the Allocation For Music Producers (AMP) Act would ensure how producers and engineers get paid by codifying into law, for the first time, the producer's right to collect the royalties they are due and by formalizing SoundExchange's current voluntary policy.
Meanwhile, the Compensating Legacy Artists For Their Songs, Service And Important Contributions To Society (CLASSICS) Act would bring pre-1972 recordings into the federal copyright system and ensure that digital transmissions of both pre and post-1972 recordings receive the same treatment — allowing rights holders an avenue to protect their copyrights and get paid for their work.
Both the AMP Act and the CLASSICS Act are also contained in the Fair Play Fair Pay Act, a more comprehensive reform measure that would modernize laws governing sound recordings, including the establishment of a domestic public performance right for broadcasts of recordings on terrestrial radio. Fair Play Fair Pay ensures that all broadcasted recordings, regardless of platform or date released, receive the same federal copyright protections and have the ability to collect royalties.
And just weeks ago, the Music Modernization Act was introduced with bipartisan and industry support to update antiquated laws that govern songwriters. The bill ensures songwriters are paid when digital platforms use their music, while also improving transparency, providing better royalty rates, and giving songwriters more involvement over their mechanical rights.
As we move into the New Year, these important pieces of legislation would better standardize music licensing rules for music creators, creating a more level playing field for musical works currently protected by copyright laws.
5. Protect National Endowment For The Arts Funding
Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts provides federal funding to artists and organizations making outstanding cultural contributions to the U.S. This funding has allowed music and the others arts to flourish nationwide, creating jazz festivals, choral events and providing at-risk students enrichment opportunities, among many other projects.
"The modest support that we provide to music and the arts is returned many times over, whether measured in jobs and economic impact, or sheer cultural enrichment and introspection," said Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow in May 2017.
Under the current administration, funding of the agency remains at risk. In March 2017, President Donald Trump's proposed federal budget would have eliminated the NEA, which would create a huge deficit in funding for arts programs that help sustain our country's healthy arts and economic ecosystem, which generates $166 billion in revenue and 4.6 million jobs across multiple industries, according to a 2017 study.
Advocates of the arts have helped protect the NEA thus far, with bipartisan Congressional support pushing to fully fund the agency for the current Fiscal Year. Later this month, Congress aims to pass a full spending bill that would include NEA funding, but experts predict that the president could propose similar cuts for his Fiscal Year 2019 budget. If you believe in the value of the arts, visit our Advocacy Action page to learn how you can make a difference.
6. Save The Date: District Advocate 2018
Strength in numbers. That's the underlying thought behind the Recording Academy's District Advocate Day, the largest grassroots initiative for music in the nation.
More than 1,000 music creators, across all 50 states, united on Oct. 18 for the 2017 installment with the mission of addressing a range of key legislative issues affecting the music industry with congressional offices in their home districts. Lawmakers from California to New York were peppered with discussions about improving outdated laws, modernizing copyright protections, protecting songwriters and composers, and advocating for the next generation of music makers.
Look for news on the official date for the 2018 District Advocate Day, which is tentatively slated for October. This year's campaign will carry an even greater importance given it will precede the aforementioned November midterm elections.
7. Consent Decrees Under Makan Delrahim
The consent decrees that govern performing rights organizations ASCAP and BMI are sorely in need of a refresh since they haven't changed much since 1941. This year, the Department of Justice that governs these regulations has a new frontman, Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim.
As the new head of the antitrust department, Delrahim brings with him a philosophical outlook that seems to include an understanding that many of our outdated consent decrees need an update to stay on par with dramatically changed markets and technologies.
"We're thinking hard about ways that consent decrees can be improved," Delrahim said during his keynote speech at the American Bar Association in November 2017. "Believe it or not, we have nearly 1,300 judgments in effect, with some that are well over 100 years old. One dates to 1891. My favorite is the one pertaining to music rolls, still protecting consumers against the ills of anticompetitive behavior in the mechanical organ market. … Do you see what I mean about static solutions to the realities of dynamic markets?"
While it remains to be seen how Delrahim's favoring of less regulation could impact the consent decrees that impact PROs and music royalty payments, it does seem that he has his eye on updating outdated laws, which could be to music creator's benefit.
Honoree Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) (center) at the GRAMMYs on the Hill Awards on April 15, 2015
Photo: Paul Morigi/WireImage.com
Rep. Jerrold Nadler Wins House Judiciary Committee Vote
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) has earned the top Democratic seat on the House Judiciary Committee, replacing Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.). Nadler, who stepped into the role in an acting capacity on Nov. 29, defeated Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) by a vote of 118 to 72.
While The Hill acknowledged that Nadler, a 13-term Congress member, and Lofgren, a 12-term Congress member, have similar political viewpoints, they cited the former's constitutional knowledge as giving him an edge over Lofgren with other members of the committee, along with his seniority.
"This is a critical time in our nation's history, and the work of the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee is more important than ever," Nadler said in a statement. "We must fight to protect the rule of law, strengthen our safety and security from enemies foreign and domestic, shield Americans' rights and liberties from encroachment, and guarantee that all people, no matter their age, race, gender, religion, ability, finances, nationality, or sexual orientation, are treated fairly and equally."
Nadler's victory could signal positive news for music creators, as he has been an active supporter of legislation critical to the industry. Nadlerhas introduced the Fair Play Fair Pay Act and, along with Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the CLASSICS Act, two bills that would allow musicians to be fairly compensated for their recordings, including those created before 1972.
Alongside Alicia Keys and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Nadler was honored at the 2015 GRAMMYs on the Hill Awards for his support and understanding of music creators' unique role in enriching our lives and culture.
"The Recording Academy and its membership of music creators congratulate Jerrold Nadler on his election to Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee," said Daryl P. Friedman, Recording Academy Chief Industry, Government & Member Relations Officer. "Not only is Congressman Nadler an expert on intellectual property and a supporter of creators’ rights, he is an honest broker who hears all sides and considers all perspectives. The Recording Academy looks forward to working with the Congressman in his prestigious position to advance this important legislation and advocate for a sustainable future for all music creators."
Photo: IStock/Getty Images
House Judiciary Ranking Member: The Most Important Congressional Race?
"The Congressional race nobody is talking about is maybe the most important for music creators. Who will be the top Democrat on Judiciary?" — Conversations in Advocacy #3
On Nov. 29 Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) stepped into the role of Ranking Member on the House Judiciary Committee in an acting capacity, but Democrats will soon make a final choice on who will be the permanent Ranking Member. Also in consideration is Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who has been uniquely aligned with the policy interests of the big technology companies that dominate her Silicon Valley congressional district.
Writers at The Intercept recently took a dim view of what they considered Lofgren's unfailing allegiance to tech giants like Google, even in the face of recent controversies. As far as matters affecting creators and copyright law, Nadler has taken a much more pragmatic view, as evidenced by his sponsoring legislation such as the Fair Play Fair Pay Act of 2017.
Both lawmakers say they believe in protections for artists, but Lofgren's tech-centric point-of-view may not always align with the interests of music creators. For example, The Intercept noted that in 2009 she sanctioned Google's plan to digitize millions of books from libraries without approval from the actual copyright holders.
It is an especially crucial time for the House Judiciary Committee given the prospect of major copyright reform legislation in 2018. Modernization is overdue and it is in crafting the details of such a long-awaited update that Nadler could potentially best demonstrate his bill-making abilities.
It all adds up to why the music community should keep a close eye on who will ultimately be chosen to lead the effort to update copyright law as the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.
"Conversations in Advocacy" is your weekend digital tip sheet on the policies that affect music makers and their craft. New installments post every Friday.
Music Piracy: How Fans Are Part Of The Solution
Guess what? Fans are not only an integral part of the lifeblood of the music industry, they are a great tool in the fight against music piracy.
"With the notice and takedown system so broken, we need all the help we can get keeping music accessible to real fans. It's great to see true fans be part of the solution, looking out for the artists and songwriters they love." — Conversations in Advocacy #1
Taylor Swift's latest album, Reputation, released Nov. 10, sold more than 1.2 million copies in its first week. According to industry insiders, the incidents of album pirating were comparatively low.
While torrent-based album ripping tended to be the primary means of music piracy in the past, more recently there has been in a shift in how music gets shared illegally. Nowadays, music is prone to circulate illegally on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, as well as via stream-ripping, which is one of the more dominant forms of piracy worldwide.
To battle piracy, it takes an army — artists, managers, record labels, and industry trade groups — and, increasingly, legions of fans, who have taken to reporting violations as well. In the case of Swift, for example, when the track list for Reputation was released online, Swifities themselves flagged and reported the parties who posted the track list.
With a notice and takedown process that is labor intensive and a lot like playing whack-a-mole as illegal content proliferates across the internet, assistance from music fans is welcome. Instead of ripping music for free, fan communities are now becoming a huge asset to ensure artists get properly paid for their work.
"Fan armies care deeply about their favorite artists and actively monitor for instances of a song or album illegally posted," a spokesperson for the RIAA told Billboard. "Our 'report piracy' inboxes and Twitter feed are often flooded with emails and tips. It's not only helpful, it's a hopeful sign about the mind-set of modern fans and their respect for artists."
Read more about how fans are impacting the fight against music piracy here.
"Conversations in Advocacy" is your weekly digital tip sheet on the policies that affect music makers and their craft. New installments post every Friday.