These days, advocacy work is nearly as central to The Recording Academy’s membership as the creation and promotion of music.
Changes in the way music is consumed, combined with an outdated patchwork of legislation governing the industry, have resulted in a landscape where many creators are overlooked and underpaid. Broadcasters, tech companies and other large corporations are pocketing the profits from music, while music creators don't always receive fair compensation for their work. Creators are disadvantaged both by government-mandated rules that don’t fully protect their work and exclude them from decision making as well as closed-door deals that devalue their intellectual property. This uncomfortable reality demands a robust effort by the music community to change the status quo.
The Recording Academy maintains its position as the trade association for music creators by crafting innovative and effective ways to elevate creator voices in Washington. More music professionals are following The Recording Academy’s lead by physically traveling to Capitol Hill annually on GRAMMYs on the Hill Advocacy Day to ask congressional lawmakers to fix a broken system. In February 2015, 10 prominent music professionals stepped up as co-founders of The Academy’s GRAMMY Creators Alliance, lending their clout to policy discussions about fairness for music makers at all levels of the industry, not only for themselves but for future generations.
We also experienced a phenomenal response to GRAMMYs in My District in 2015. On Oct. 14, more than 1,650 members of The Recording Academy took part in this unique, grassroots advocacy campaign, which connected creators with hundreds of local congressional offices across the country. Here, they received support on essential legislative reforms, including the AMP Act and the Fair Play Fair Pay Act of 2015.
Following these impressive successes, our members have asked what more they could do to make a difference. They challenged us to be as creative in the advocacy work we do as they are in the work they do. As 2016 got underway —and with an exciting 58th Annual GRAMMY Awards telecast in store on Feb. 15 — we hunkered down to lay the groundwork for what we believe is an exciting next step.
And here it is: The Recording Academy is launching The GRAMMY Fund for Music Creators. This fund is the next step in the logical progression of our work to expand our reach and make engagement on music legislation reform accessible to every one of our 25,000 members throughout the country. The GRAMMY Fund – a Political Action Committee or PAC — gives members another meaningful opportunity to actively help protect the rights of music makers and advance their interests on important policy matters by offering tangible support to those members of Congress who support music creators.
This new tool in our advocacy arsenal will be available to all — not just the top performers you see at the GRAMMY Awards, but to those working music professionals in every discipline and genre. It’s time to combine the considerable resources at our disposal and put them to work for us in Washington, and the GRAMMY Fund will make it easy for every member of The Academy to participate at a level with which they feel comfortable.
In addition, the GRAMMY Fund represents a natural evolution as an advocacy organization, leveling the playing field with our opposition. We may not be the biggest PAC, but together with all that our members are doing, we will be among the loudest in the space. We're supported in this endeavor by our Fund Ambassadors, representing some of the most prominent names in the music business: singer/songwriter Anita Baker; top-charting songwriter Evan Bogart; songwriter, singer, and percussionist Sheila E.; singer/songwriter/producer Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds; songwriter/producers Jimmy Jam, Rodney Jerkins and Harvey Mason Jr.; and songwriter/guitarist/producer Nile Rodgers.
In a Feb. 2 story on The GRAMMY Fund in The New York Times, Fund Ambassador Harvey Mason Jr. notes, "We are regular people trying to make a living, playing in bars, in other parts of the country besides New York and L.A. We represent everybody, not just superstar artists. So we are careful in how we disseminate our message, and when we go to D.C. or have events, it is with a variety of people from the bottom to the top."
It's an exciting — and challenging — moment in the evolution of music for creators. With the growing strength of our grassroots advocacy efforts, we strive towards a fair and rewarding music economy for all creators.