"Aidan was one of the most popular baby names in 2002."
This seemingly meaningless piece of trivia was told to me by the "Aidan" who inspired it. Actor John Corbett ("Sex And The City," My Big Fat Greek Wedding) came to Washington, D.C., to participate in a GRAMMYs on the Hill event welcoming the new Congress.
But Corbett's reason for coming to D.C. was anything but trivial. With his friend, the talented Jon Randall Stewart (GRAMMY-winning producer/songwriter and President of our Nashville Chapter), Corbett came to D.C. to bring the needs of The Recording Academy's membership to the attention of the new Congress. Corbett and Stewart played a few of Stewart's songs that will appear on Corbett's new album. And they spoke — from the heart — about making music.
In front of a standing-room only audience of legislators and policy staff, I asked Corbett what he saw as the main difference between working as an actor and working as a musician.
"Successful actors often measure their compensation in millions," Corbett informed the crowd. "Artists and songwriters measure theirs in pennies. And now, with many digital music services, fractions of pennies."
It was a stark way of thinking about it. Songwriters get 9 cents on a download, and micro pennies on an Internet radio spin. All the artists on a track share one-twentieth of a penny per spin on Internet radio and (notoriously) nothing on AM/FM radio. It was also a good reminder for the audience members, new and returning policymakers who will influence legislation impacting the music economy.
But for all the policy talk, it was the music that spoke most profoundly. Stewart's songs (including a moving rendition of "Whiskey Lullaby") were enjoyed by six members of Congress and 120 staffers from both parties who will be shaping policy. If Corbett is as influential with legislators as he was with new parents, we're making progress.