Harvey Mason jr.
Photo Courtesy of Harvey Mason jr.
Mindi Abair, Harvey Mason Jr. Co-Chair National Advocacy Committee
On Aug. 16 the Recording Academy announced saxophonist Mindi Abair and producer Harvey Mason Jr. as the GRAMMY nominated co-chairs of its National Advocacy Committee, leading the music community's mobilization as we unite to push the Music Modernization Act across the finish line in the United States Senate.
The National Advocacy Committee is made up entirely of music creators, from performers and songwriters to producers and sound engineers. Previous co-chair, songwriter Sue Ennis remains as a regular committee member alongside GRAMMY winning legends Booker T. Jones and Nile Rodgers. They are joined by five-time GRAMMY winner, R&B singer Lalah Hathaway, altogether comprising an array of diverse talents that represent the scope of the music industry itself.
Continuing ex-officio members, supporting the Committee's work, are John Poppo, producer and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Recording Academy; Neil Portnow, President/CEO of the Recording Academy; and Daryl P. Friedman, the Academy's Chief Industry, Government & Member Relations Officer.
"Music creators have witnessed the transformation of the music industry and they deserve a seat at the table," said Portnow. "They want their voices to be heard when decisions are being made that impact their careers and livelihood, and they know that 2018 is proving to be a landmark legislative year for them. The knowledge these leading creators bring ensures the Committee will continue to be an effective advocate for the next generation, while working to improve everyday lives of today's music creators."
This extraordinary year for the Academy's advocacy efforts has already featured highlights including a special New York field hearing of the House Judiciary Committee during GRAMMY Week, where Jones testified beside Portnow in support of the Music Modernization Act at. Shortly after GRAMMYs on the Hill 2018 in April, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill unanimously, 415-0. The Senate version of the MMA is now pending a floor vote, having already passed the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously on June 28 and now counts a majority of the Senate as co-sponsors. Because music industry stakeholders united behind an achievable vision for copyright reform, this summer finds music makers close to a once-in-a-generation change for the better.
The National Advocacy Committee will lead and coordinate the Academy's unified action toward seeing these hopes for change realized by U.S. Senate passage of the Music Modernization Act. This includes District Advocate day, set for Oct. 24, when Recording Academy membership meets face-to-face with their legislators to personally convey the impact current legislation has on their livelihoods.
As Portnow explained at the New York field hearing, the different roles active recording industry professionals play should be regulated with a unified fairness, not chopped up into fragmented categories regulated by multiple out-of-date regimes — and should include protections for music producers, who have never been mentioned in U.S. copyright law.
The National Advocacy Committee is a conduit connecting the Academy’s creative membership to lawmakers through advocacy and action. And as fairness for music creators remains the primary objective, passage of the MMA will finally be the platform that allows us to achieve those goals in a digital world.