District Advocate Day: Music Creators Unite In All 50 States
From California to New York, and all points in between, more than 1,000 music creators united on Oct. 18 for District Advocate Day to put a range of key legislative issues affecting the music industry on the table for discussion.
Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Dina Titus (D-Nev.), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), Steve Russell (R-Okla.), and Karen Handel (R-Ga.) represent just some of the members of Congress who met with music creators. Issues addressed included improving outdated laws, modernizing copyright protections, protecting songwriters and composers, and advocating for the next generation of music makers.
(Photographed at top: GRAMMY winner Peter Asher, Rep. Ted Lieu [D-Calif.], Concord Records President John Burk and GRAMMY nominee Mindi Abair attend District Advocate Day in Los Angeles at Recording Academy headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif.)
District Advocate Day 2017: 4 Things At Stake For Music Creators
Oct. 18, 2017, is a huge day for the livelihood of the music community.
Music creators from all 50 states — including songwriters, performers, musicians, producers, and engineers — will participate in the largest grassroots initiative for music in the nation: the Recording Academy's District Advocate day.
The purpose? Music creators will come together on this day to get some important face time with congressional offices in their home districts to discuss legislative issues affecting the music industry, including performance rights, copyright reform and the impact of digital services.
Taking place in nearly 300 congressional districts across the country, artists and industry professionals will lead the charge for updates to music legislation on behalf of today's creators, as well as the next generation of music makers, ensuring they can make a living from their craft.
There are a variety of issues creators will discuss on District Advocate day, but here are four key ones on the table:
Fixing Outdated Laws
Each year, $200 million in royalties for U.S. artists is left overseas due to a lack of a performance royalty in the United States. While most countries provide performance royalties to artists, they do not have to pay U.S. artists since the U.S. does not have a reciprocal royalty in place. The U.S. is aligned with the likes of North Korea, China, and Sudan in its stance on performance royalties. The bipartisan Fair Play Fair Pay Act of 2017 would change this through reforming music licensing for sound recordings in a comprehensive way, allowing music creators to receive fair pay for their work.
Modernizing Copyright Protections
Although they are one of the most vital components of any song production, music producers have never been mentioned in any part of the copyright law. H.R. 881, the Allocation for Music Producers Act, would fix this by extending copyright law to music producers, ensuring fair compensation for their work.
Protecting Songwriters And Composers
Songwriters and composers are the first contributors in music production. However, because of decades-old consent decrees, songwriter royalties are suppressed to below fair-market value. True music licensing reform must include changes to ensure songwriters and composers receive fair compensation.
Advocating For The Next Generation
Recording Academy members understand that their efforts not only benefit themselves and their current peers but the creators who will follow in their footsteps. This is why District Advocate day is one of the most widely attended events hosted by the Recording Academy. By advocating for these issues and others, Recording Academy members can ensure that music is valued today, and in the future, both culturally and economically.
"The participation of members across all 50 states is an unprecedented milestone signaling that the music community is firmly united in advocating for a fair and just future for all music creators," said Daryl Friedman, the Recording Academy's Chief Industry, Government & Member Relations Officer. "We look forward to having these in-depth conversations with members of Congress and reinforcing that music lives in every state, and deserves to be heard in Washington, D.C."
District Advocate 2017: Town Halls Encourage Songwriter Activism
In advance of the Recording Academy's 2017 District Advocate Day in Washington, D.C., members of the Academy's National Advocacy Committee, Chapter Board leadership, and Advocacy & Public Policy team hosted a series of Advocacy Town Halls around the country to discuss important topics germane to music creators.
Present at the Recording Academy's Los Angeles Chapter Advocacy Town Hall were GRAMMY-winning producers Rodney Jerkins and Om'Mas Keith, songwriter MoZella, and Todd Dupler, Senior Director Advocacy & Public Policy for the Recording Academy — all speaking to more than 100 attendees at L.A.'s iconic Village Studios.
Jerkins, Keith and MoZella painted a picture of the current industry landscape with regard to streaming service royalties and payouts — an increasingly unsustainable marketplace for creators. Meanwhile, Dupler pointed to the recent lobbying efforts by the Recording Academy, which succeeded in first saving, then increasing the funding for, the National Endowment of the Arts over the past year. The point being: Lobbying for legislative change and connecting with elected officials who have shown themselves to be allies of creators' political goals can and does work.
The panel also discussed legislation that may soon come to vote on the House floor, which could impact music creators in positive or negative ways. Of potential benefit are the Allocation for Music Producers Act and possible legislation for songwriters. The former would amend copyright law to assure that producers, engineers, and mixing/mastering professionals are able to earn digital royalties, while the latter would reform some of the more difficult aspects for compulsory license restrictions for musical works and compositions, making it easier for PROs to negotiate with music services on behalf of creators.
On the opposite side, the panel cautioned the Music Transparency Act (H.R. 3350), which could impose prohibitive barriers between songwriters and copyright protections — protections that creators across all other artistic fields enjoy as a basic right. The bill would, as Dupler asserted, "take away one of the only legal protections copyright owners have for their royalties."
Registration for District Advocate Day 2017 is now closed, but that doesn't mean you cannot still get involved.
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