Photo: Paul Morigi/WireImage for the Recording Academy
Songwriters & Composers Wing: Celebrating Decades of Advocacy
Congratulations to songwriters and composers on the establishment of the Recording Academy’s Songwriters & Composers Wing!
For decades, these creatives have proven to be an instrumental part of the Academy’s advocacy work. Together, we have fought for fair market rate standards, the modernization of the mechanical royalty collection process, and, most recently, financial relief to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.
At a town hall in Los Angeles in 2017, the Academy partnered with MoZella, Om’Mas Keith, and Rodney Jerkins to educate songwriters and composers on the importance of advocacy. Topics included the importance of using your voice to create change, fighting for fair compensation, and pushing elected officials to enact positive legislative reform, among others. These conversations resulted in the upcoming District Advocate day, where creators from all corners of the country held meetings with members of Congress to stress the importance of these issues. Read more about this event in Billboard’s article, “Recording Academy Urges Songwriter Activism to Ensure Music Industry’s Future.”
Songwriters and composers utilized the skills honed during past outreach to policymakers by advocating for the landmark Music Modernization Act (MMA). Once the legislation passed in 2018, songwriters and composers began to see their hard work materialize, which helped many creatives properly receive the funds they earned and established a new mechanical licensing collective. While the MMA made great progress, songwriters and composers continued to advocate for equitable implementation of the bill.
When proposed wording in the U.S. Copyright Office’s (USCO) MMA update had the potential to negatively impact the songwriters it was striving to help, the Academy, representing its songwriter and composer constituency, sent an ex parte letter asking for the USCO to amend any language that could be “construed in any way that changes, diminishes, or alters termination rights, or in any way that makes a substantive determination about the nature of those rights.” The letter’s goal was to ensure that the USCO did not create an additional burden on songwriters attempting to rightfully reclaim their work.
The Recording Academy also assisted the USCO in designating the entity tasked with administering blanket mechanical licenses for digital streaming services, a key provision of the MMA. The Mechanical Licensing Collective, which started collecting and distributing royalties earlier this year, recently received $424 million in unmatched royalties from streaming services, which will then be distributed to songwriters for free. The Recording Academy hosted a webinar with MLC CEO Kris Ahrend and songwriter Tayla Parx last year to help explain the tremendous benefit of the collective for songwriters and composers.
From meeting with lawmakers on Capitol Hill to actually writing songs with them, let’s take a look back at our years spent together fighting for the rights of songwriters and composers:
Above, the Honorable Doug Collins (Ga.) and songwriters Victoria Shaw and Gary Burr collaborate on a new anthem honoring the recently introduced Songwriter Equity Act, and performed the song at GRAMMYs On The Hill in 2014. Credit: Video by Recording Academy/Featured in Washington Post.