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Producer Mike Clink Delivers Testimony On Crucial Music Issues
"Did you watch the House Judiciary Committee hearing on music issues last week? It was so great that they had witnesses representing all music creators. It wasn't just the big names you see on stage, but people that work behind the scenes like producer Mike Clink." — Conversations in Advocacy #7
Indeed, on Jan. 26 in New York City at the full House Judiciary Committee field hearing titled "Music Policy Issues: A Perspective From Those Who Make It," Mike Clink weighed in on behalf of those who work behind the scenes in the music industry.
Clink has spent the nearly four decades producing, recording and mixing some of the world's biggest artists, including the likes of Guns N' Roses, Mötley Crüe, Megadeth, and Heart. His unique perspective on the issues facing music creators started with articulating the critical role a producer plays in the creative process.
"Unlike recording artists, the role of the producer is less understood by the public — a sentiment reflected in copyright law, or lack thereof," said Clink. "Producers and other studio professionals, like sound engineers and mixers, work behind the scenes, but they are an integral part of the creative process for any sound recording. Their names might not be as well-known as the stars onstage, but it is safe to say there would be no stars without a producer behind them."
Producer Mike Clink at work in the recording studio
Photo: Matt Hayward/Getty Images
Clink pointed out that producers bring sound recordings to life across all genres, and that while a select few such studio professionals have become well-known names, such as George Martin, Quincy Jones and Pharrell Williams, the vast majority do not receive fame or fortune despite being so integral to the process.
"Despite their indispensable role in the creation of sound recordings, music producers have never been mentioned in federal copyright law," said Clink. "In fact, they are the only individuals directly involved in the creation of music to lack copyright protections. The omission of copyright protections diminishes their role as music makers and hinders their ability to directly collect royalties."
In a display of unity among the various key players in the music industry, Clink testified alongside a diverse lineup of music creators, including singer/songwriter Aloe Blacc, country songwriter Tom Douglas, three-time GRAMMY winner Booker T. Jones, Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow, and five-time GRAMMY winner Dionne Warwick.
Clink and Dionne Warwick testify at the House Judiciary Committee Field Hearing on Jan. 26, 2018, in New York City
Photo: Sean Zanni/Getty Images
However, Clink's unique perspective as a record producer made him the most suitable to address issues such as the implications of the omission of producers in the Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act, the promising yet inefficient system of collecting digital royalties through SoundExchange, and the dire need for the Allocations For Music Producers Act.
"The AMP Act was reintroduced at the start of the 115th Congress, and would extend rights to producers, codifying into law their right to collect the royalties they are due. The bill now has the bipartisan support of 50 House members," said Clink, adding that the AMP Act is supported by major music organizations, including the Recording Academy.
But the AMP Act, while crucial, is one component of the effort to modernize copyright law. Clink closed his testimony with a compelling argument for a comprehensive approach to reform.
"Fair Play Fair Pay … would immediately benefit thousands of American performers, musicians, recording artists and studio professionals … while also ushering in much needed reforms that close outdated loopholes and level unlevel playing fields," said Clink. "Likewise, the CLASSICS Act… would address sound recordings released before 1972 and help clarify that they too would have federal copyright protections. Similarly, the Music Modernization Act… would address antiquated laws affecting songwriters."
Together, these bills have been endorsed by more than 20 music organizations, and offer Congress the "opportunity to solve multiple decades-long problems and inherent inequities in the law by ushering in solutions that are more reflective of the digital era," according to Clink, not only to "ensure a better present for today’s music makers, but to safeguard that the music makers of tomorrow can still enter this industry with the confidence and comfort to know that their work will be valued and protected."
"Conversations in Advocacy" is your weekend digital tip sheet on the policies that affect music makers and their craft. New installments post every Friday.