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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.