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Thanksgiving: 4 Dinner-Friendly Music Advocacy Topics
Here's something to think about as you sit down with family and friends this Thanksgiving: A Nov. 21 poll reveals most Americans hope to avoid talking about partisan politics in between helpings of turkey and all the fixings.
Of course, there's nothing worse than an argument at the dinner table, let alone a holiday gathering. However, if you feel the need to get political, there is one issue that will keep you in the bipartisan-friendly zone: music creators' rights.
With that in mind, here are four safe music-related conversation starters that you can feel safe bringing up as you pass the stuffing.
1. Did you know recording artists don't get paid for their music on the radio?
Royalty calculations can get complicated but zero is simple, and that is exactly what recording artists in the U.S. receive in music royalties each time their music is played on the radio. "Terrestrial radio play in the United Kingdom, the Beatles or the Beach Boys or anybody gets a royalty; in the United States, they don't," was how Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) summed it up. He is just one of the many co-sponsors supporting H.R. 1836, the Fair Play Fair Pay Act of 2017, which is also designed to compensate the music creators "behind-the-scenes," including producers, background singers and vocalists.
2. Did you know that songwriter pay is still regulated by laws dating back to the 1940s?
Performing rights organizations ASCAP and BMI operate under Department of Justice consent decrees that began in 1941. The DOJ's recent review further complicated what was already an uncertain and willfully blind system. Digital streaming royalties could also be simplified if a uniform approach governed all forms of music distribution.
3. Did you know it's up to the artists and songwriters to police the internet for copyright violations of their own works?
Maria Schneider is a modern jazz great whose artistry is always front-and-center, unless she is busy playing Whack-A-Mole on the hunt for infringing copies of her work on the internet, as she has testified about before Congress on behalf of the Recording Academy. T Bone Burnett more recently addressed a video to the Copyright Office explaining how the legal "safe harbor" granted to internet hosts under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is broken for artists. Re-piracy of already identified works repopulating the internet after take downs is a huge problem. Better anti-piracy enforcement by ISPs and social platforms is certainly a part of the solution.
4. Did you know music producers are the only music creators without federal copyright protection?
Under U.S. copyright law, producers of audio recordings get zero mention. "As a lover of music and a self-proclaimed songwriter, I'm familiar with just how essential producers and engineers are to the music industry," said Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) about H.R. 881, the Allocation for Music Producers or AMP Act. "Composing songs is a team effort, and our AMP Act will ensure that every music professional receives what he or she has earned." The producers of music recordings consistently bring sound compositions to life for artists across all genres. As true stakeholders in the creative process, producers deserve fair protection and acknowledgement.