meta-scriptPearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors |
Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam

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Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors

Pearl Jam's Mike McCready says "if you love music," record stores are the place to find it

GRAMMYs/Feb 13, 2019 - 04:05 am

Record Store Day 2019 will arrive on April 13 and this year's RSD Ambassadors are Pearl Jam. Past ambassadors include Dave Grohl, Metallica, Run The Jewels (Killer Mike and El-P), and 61st GRAMMY Awards winner for Best Rock Song St. Vincent.

McCready was also the 2018 recipient of MusiCares' Stevie Ray Vaughan Award

The band was formed in 1990 by McCready, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, and Eddie Vedder, and they have played with drummer Matt Cameron since 2002. They have had five albums reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and four albums reach No. 2.

"Pearl Jam is honored to be Record Store Day's Ambassador for 2019. Independent record stores are hugely important to me," Pearl Jam's Mike McCready said in a statement publicizing the peak-vinyl event. "Support every independent record store that you can. They're really a good part of society. Know if you love music, this is the place to find it."

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With a dozen GRAMMY nominations to date, Pearl Jam's sole win so far was at the 38th GRAMMY Awards for "Spin The Black Circle" for Best Hard Rock Performance.

Pearl Jam will be performing on March 3 in Tempe, Ariz. at the Innings festival, on June 15 in Florence, Italy at the Firenze Rocks Festival and at another festival in Barolo, Italy on June 17. On July 6 Pearl Jam will headline London's Wembley Stadium.

Seattle's Museum Of Pop Culture To Host Pearl Jam Exhibit

Pearl Jam posed ahead of Dark Matter
Pearl Jam

Photo: Danny Clinch


Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard On New Album ‘Dark Matter’ & The Galvanizing Force Of Andrew Watt

"It's not about anything other than movement and rhythm and noise," Stone Gossard, Pearl Jam’s founding guitarist, says of their whiplashing essence. On their latest album, producer Andrew Watt captured that hurricane in a bottle.

GRAMMYs/Apr 19, 2024 - 01:42 pm

When Pearl Jam threw their hands together on the cover of their debut album Ten, they laid an architecturally sound foundation — to stay unified, unbroken, always honing. Much like their hero (and collaborator) Neil Young, their aesthetic blueprint was established from the jump: on every album in Ten’s wake, they’ve dug a little (or a lot) deeper into that ineffable essence.

Pearl Jam have never made a bad record; they’ve only swung their pickaxe at that mine and been variably rewarded. On 2000’s Binaural, they hit a seam of simmering psychedelia; on its follow-up, the underrated, desolate Riot Act, they stumbled on a yawning, haunted chasm. 2009’s Backspacer, 2013’s Lightning Bolt and 2020’s Gigaton were all hailed as returns to form, yet none of them totally flipped the script.

Enter Dark Matter, their new album, produced by the young wunderkind Andrew Watt, due out April 19. Singer Eddie Vedder has declared, "No hyperbole, I think this is our best work." This time, that really feels apt: Watt’s abundant, kinetic energy and clear love for their legacy clearly knocked a few cobwebs loose.

Just listen to singles "Running" and "Dark Matter" — or album tracks, like the epic ballad "Wreckage," and how they build to neck-snapping fever pitches. Pearl Jam have always had batteries in their backs, but they haven’t sounded this young and hungry in decades.

"I think he loves the band from what he has seen us live. He knows that we, in certain moments, are unhinged," founding guitarist Stone Gossard tells of the irrepressible Watt, who’s also whipped the Rolling Stones and Ozzy Osbourne back into fighting shape. "That's part of what we do."

"It’s where rock and roll meets just religious ecstasy, where it's not about anything other than movement and rhythm and noise," Gossard adds. "And it turns into something that's not a song, but a ritual or something… sometimes, as you get older as a band, you can lose touch of that."

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Can you talk about Dark Matter’s sound? It feels so different from past Pearl Jam records, in a great way — it seems to emanate from a dark center, to all sides of the soundfield.

The sonics of it is really Andrew Watt. That’s his dream — of loving rock music, and then being in the pop world, then learning and understanding that world so well. And then going back to all of his favorite bands from when he was a kid and making records with them, which is hilarious. 

Because I keep saying this, "We're just in Andrew's dream and we're just kind of a sidebar. This is really the Andrew Watt story that's actually going on right now, and we're all just part of it."

But he really has a very distinctive sonic style. He has a studio that we just walked into the first day making this record, and it's just gear already out, ready to go: "What kind of guitar do you want? Here's an amp, whatever, the drums are here. We’ve got a microphone in the closet."

Usually, if you're in a band — and especially a band for 20 or 30 years — when you decide to do something, then your gear shows up and your guy shows up, and then all your guys argue with each other about where their stuff's going to go, it's a drama. This was no drama. There was no work involved. We just walked in and played.

It sounded like the record right away. He's running things through the chains that he wants. The way he uses compression, and the way he uses reverb, and the guitar sounds he likes, and how he places things — he's a sonic artist.

So it sounds exciting, and really live. And yet, also you can really hear the details, and it's not a mess.

It’s interesting that you bring up Watt’s pop background. Pearl Jam has always seemed at odds with how things are typically done in the music industry, so it’s great that you’re able to retrieve what you need from the machine.

Well, there's the world of pop music in terms of your perception of it, in terms of what it represents.

But also, the structures that we're dealing with in rock songs and pop songs — basically, the form is still the same. You're starting out with one part and maybe there's a variation, but it's tension and release and it's a few chords and it's a beat and it's a piece of poetry.

Those things can fit together in a lot of different ways, but there's things about pop music that are foundational to all music. There's things about it that work, and work for a reason. It gets bastardized and homogenized and all that.

So, we're still writing rock songs and pop songs — but we like to make them a little hairier, generally.

I see how the Dark Matter sessions could be the Watt show. But I’m sure it was a reciprocal conversation. What references were you throwing back at him, from the millions of miles the band’s traveled together?

Well, he’s a fan. He’s a Ten Club member from way, way back. He fell in love with Pearl Jam when he was 15 years old.

He met [guitarist] Mike McCready outside of a Robin Hood fundraiser in New York. He was with his dad, and Andrew and his dad came up and said, "This is my son Andrew; he's a musician; he really wants to become a rock star. He wants to be in bands and make records. And Mike, do you have any advice you can give him?"

And Mike said, "Finish up your college your dad wants you to, and make sure you got your bases covered." And then Andrew, of course, just went in the opposite direction and said, "Oh, I'm just going to conquer the world and then I'm going to come back and produce your band, Mike McCready."

So I love that. I love that he has that history with us. And I just think that he comes from a place, he's a real fan of the band. His enthusiasm really drove the process and his understanding of the things that he loves about us. He really wanted us to make an aggressive record. He really fell in love with our unhinged side from when he was a kid. But just loved the different ways that we had fit together as a kid.

I think he was encouraging us to find those same sort of things that worked in the past. And he's an experimenter. He's ready for anything. You can say no to him. I mean, you’ve got to be forceful. We were a united front a few times and just said, "No, we're going to do this," or whatever. But he made a lot of good decisions, and helped us make a lot of good decisions.

And I think the record, the arrangements, even just them playing now — when we're just starting to rehearse them, the songs are playing well, they're playing themselves. There's no ambiguity to them, where it's mushy. They're strong — lyrically, melodically, rhythmically. All the stool legs are in place.

As I understand it, there were no demos, and Eddie was reacting to the energy in the room, and writing in the moment. This is a great batch of lyrics. They hit you in the solar plexus.

I think one thing that we've learned over the years is that Eddie is more active and more inspired and will finish more songs — and get more excited about songs — when he's in the process of writing with the band.

So, if it's us against the world, and we're stepping into a studio — someone's throwing out a riff or someone's got an idea, and then it gets tweaked and molded — he's going to do his damnedest to make that thing. If he's in on it and feels part of it, he's going to do his damnedest to make that thing have legs and survive.

You're less likely to have something happen if you send him something than you are if you plan something when he's in the room and you're working it out. Just make it about that moment.

It's like, "I don't care about all the different things you thought your song should be or how many different ways it could go, or if it's reggae… let's try it right now with everybody and see how everyone plays it, and feels it —and do I feel it?"

And a lot of times he does, and we find that. And then once he starts going, then all of us are — phew! The energy goes up.

One of my favorite songs on Dark Matter is "Wreckage." That one builds unbelievably.

That’s really Andrew and Ed back and forth, discovering that arrangement, and the push and pull of where that song could go. I think it hit a sweet spot. All of us are part of it, but it’s understated in a way that I think is really beautiful.

It builds in a way that feels natural; it doesn’t feel gratuitous to me. It feels like a destination: you’ve reached it, and you deserve it at that point. There’s a lot going on harmonically, but the chords are very simple.

The other is "Something Special." Partly because I was looking at message boards, where the peanut gallery was complaining about its naked sentimentality. I was thinking, You don’t get it! This is straight from the heart.

Where you are in your life, and why that lyric means something to you — yeah, it’s different for everyone.

That’s a Josh Klinghoffer composition.  He’s become part of our band in a way that’s so amazing — his voice and his musicality. He’s really almost become our musical bandleader at this point, which is the best, because he’s charming and hilarious and fun to be around and always game.

Josh had this great riff. Immediately, Andrew and Ed changed a bunch of chords and moved it all around, but it turned out great. We’ve been playing it in rehearsals. It’s got great chords; it’s beautiful, sentimental and gorgeous.

And we need that on the record. The record’s pretty bleak. It’s not uplifting, necessarily. So, yeah — sometimes, you go home, and you just hang out, and you’ve got to just tell the people you love how much you love them.

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Andrew Watt
Andrew Watt

Photo: Adali Schell


How Andrew Watt Became Rock's Big Producer: His Work With Paul McCartney, Ozzy Osbourne, Pearl Jam, & More

Andrew Watt cut his teeth with pop phenoms, but lately, the 2021 Producer Of The Year winner has been in demand among rockers — from the Rolling Stones and Blink-182 to Elton John.

GRAMMYs/Apr 17, 2024 - 01:45 pm

While in a studio, Andrew Watt bounces off the walls. Just ask Mick Jagger, who once had to gently tell the 33-year-old, "Look, I can deal with this, but when you meet Ronnie and Keith, you have to dial it down a little bit."

Or ask Pearl Jam's Stone Gossard. "He really got the best out of [drummer] Matt [Cameron] just by being excited — literally jumping up and down and pumping his fist and running around," he tells

As Watt's hot streak has burned on, reams have rightly been written about his ability to take a legacy act, reconnect them with their essence, and put a battery in their back. His efficacy can be seen at Music's Biggest Night: Ozzy Osbourne's Patient Number 9 won Best Rock Album at the 2023 GRAMMYs. At the last ceremony, the Rolling Stones were nominated for Best Rock Song, for Hackney Diamonds' opener "Angry."

On Pearl Jam's return to form, Dark Matter, due out April 19. Who was behind the desk? Take a wild guess.

"You want to see them live more than you want to listen to their albums, and they have the ability to look at each other and play and follow each other. I don't like my rock music any other way, as a listener," Watt tells "All my favorite records are made like that — of people speeding up, slowing down, playing longer than they should."

As such, Watt had a lightbulb moment: to not record any demos, and have them write together in the room. "They're all playing different stuff, and it makes up what Pearl Jam is, and singer Eddie [Vedder] rides it like a wave."

If you're more of a pop listener, there's tons of Watt for you — he's worked with Justin Bieber ("Hit the Ground" from Purpose), Lana Del Rey ("Doin' Time" from Norman F—ing Rockwell) and much more. Read on for a breakdown of big name rockers who have worked with Andrew Watt.

Pearl Jam / Eddie Vedder

Watt didn't just produce Dark Matter; he also helmed Vedder's well-received third solo album, Earthling, from 2022. Watt plays guitar in Vedder's live backing band, known as the Earthlings — which also includes Josh Klinghoffer, who replaced John Frusciante in the Red Hot Chili Peppers for a stint.

The Rolling Stones

Dark Matter was a comeback for Pearl Jam, but Hackney Diamonds was really a comeback for the Stones. While it had a hater or two, the overwhelming consensus was that it was the Stones' best album in decades — maybe even since 1978's Some Girls.

"I hope what makes it fresh and modern comes down to the way it's mixed, with focus on low end and making sure the drums are big," Watt, who wore a different Stones shirt every day in the studio, has said about Hackney Diamonds. "But the record is recorded like a Stones album."

Where there are modern rock flourishes on Hackney Diamonds, "There's no click tracks. There's no gridding. There's no computer editing," he continued. "This s— is performed live and it speeds up and slows down. It's made to the f—ing heartbeat connection of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and Steve Jordan.

"And Charlie," Watt added, tipping a hat to Watts, who played on Hackney Diamonds but died before it came out. "When Charlie's on it."

Iggy Pop

Ever since he first picked up a mic and removed his shirt, the snapping junkyard dog of the Stooges has stayed relevant — as far as indie, alternative and punk music has been concerned.

But aside from bright spots like 2016's Josh Homme-produced Post Pop Depression, his late-career output has felt occasionally indulgent and enervated. The 11 songs on 2023's eclectic Watt-produced Every Loser, on the other hand, slap you in the face in 11 different ways.

"We would jam and make tracks and send them to Iggy, and he would like 'em and write to them or wouldn't like them and we'd do something else," Watt told Billboard. "It was very low pressure. We just kept making music until we felt like we had an album." (And as with Pearl Jam and Vedder's Earthlings band, Watt has rocked out onstage with Pop.

Ozzy Osbourne

You dropped your crown, O Prince of Darkness. When he hooked up with Watt, the original Black Sabbath frontman hadn't released any solo music since 2010's Scream; in 2017, Sabbath finally said goodbye after 49 years and 10 (!) singers.

On 2020's Ordinary Man and 2022's Patient Number 9, Watt reenergized Ozzy; even when he sounds his age, Ozz sounds resolute, defiant, spitting in the face of the Reaper. (A bittersweet aside: the late Taylor Hawkins appears on Patient Number 9, which was written and recorded in just four days.)

Maroon 5

Yeah, yeah, they're more of a pop-rock band, but they have guitars, bass and drums. (And if you're the type of rock fan who's neutral or hostile to the 5, you shouldn't be; Songs About Jane slaps.)

At any rate, Watt co-produced "Can't Leave You Alone," featuring Juice WRLD, from 2021's Jordi. Critics disparaged the album, but showed Watt's facility straddling the pop and rock worlds.

5 Seconds of Summer

When it comes to Andrew Watt, the Sydney pop-rockers — slightly more on the rock end than Maroon 5 and their ilk — are repeat customers. He produced a number of tracks for 5 Seconds of Summer, which spanned 2018's Youngblood, 2020's Calm and 2022's 5SOS5.

Regarding the former: Watt has cited Youngblood as one of the defining recording experiences of his life.

"I had started working with 5 Seconds of Summer, and a lot of people looked at them as a boy band, but they're not," Watt told Guitar Player. "They're all incredible musicians. They can all play every instrument. They love rock music. They can harmonize like skyrockets in flight. They just were making the wrong kind of music."

So Watt showed 5 Seconds of Summer a number of mainstays of the rock era, like Tears for Fears and the Police. The rest, as they say, is history.

Elton John

A year after Britney Spears was unshackled from her highly controversial conservatorship, it was time for a victory lap with the God of Glitter. What resulted was a curious little bauble, which became a megahit: "Hold Me Closer," a spin on "Tiny Dancer," "The One" and "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" that briefly launched Spears back into the stratosphere.

"Britney came in and she knew what she wanted to do," Watt recalled to The L.A. Times. "We sped up the song a little bit and she sang the verses in her falsetto, which harkens back to 'Toxic.' She was having a blast."

Watt has also worked with pop/punk heroes Blink-182 — but not after Tom DeLonge made his grand return. He produced "I Really Wish I Hated You" from 2019's Nine, back when Matt Skiba was in the band.

Where in the rock world will this tender-aged superproducer strike next? Watt knows.

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Kendrick Lamar GRAMMY Rewind Hero
Kendrick Lamar

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic


GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016

Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.

GRAMMYs/Oct 13, 2023 - 06:01 pm

Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.

A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.

This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system. 

"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."

Looking for more GRAMMYs news? The 2024 GRAMMY nominations are here!

He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.

"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.

"Hip-hop. Ice Cube. This is for hip-hop," he said. "This is for Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle. This is for Illmatic, this is for Nas. We will live forever. Believe that."

To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood." 

Lamar has since won Best Rap Album two more times, taking home the golden gramophone in 2018 for his blockbuster LP DAMN., and in 2023 for his bold fifth album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.

Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes. 

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Music Charities to Support

Photo: Suriyawut Suriya / EyeEm via Getty Images


9 Organizations Helping Music Makers In Need: MusiCares, The GRAMMY Museum & Others

Are you in a position to donate to musicians in a state of financial or personal crisis on this GivingTuesday? Check out these nine charitable organizations — beneath the Recording Academy umbrella and otherwise.

GRAMMYs/Nov 29, 2022 - 03:17 pm

Imagine a world where care and concern is distributed in a holistic circuit, rather than being hoarded away or never employed at all. That's the paradigm that GivingTuesday is reaching toward.

Created in 2012 under the simple precept of being generous and celebrating generosity, GivingTuesday is a practical hub for getting involved in one's community and giving as freely to benefit and nourish others.

Since GivingTuesday has swelled not just from a single day in the calendar year, but a lens through which to view the other 364 days. You can find your local GivingTuesday network here, find ways to participate here, and find ways to join  GivingTuesday events here.

Where does the Recording Academy come in? Helping musicians in need isn't something they do on the side, an afterthought while they hand out awards.

No, aiding music people is at the core of the Academy's mission. MusiCares, the Academy's philanthropic arm, has changed innumerable lives for the better.

And through this society of music professionals and its other major components — including  Advocacy, the GRAMMY Museum and GRAMMY U — the Academy continues its fight in legislative and educational forms.

If you're willing and able to help musicians in need this GivingTuesday, here's a helpful hub of nine charitable organizations with whom you can do so.


Any list of orgs that aid musicians would be remiss to not include MusiCares.

Through the generosity of donors and volunteer professionals, this organization of committed service members has been able to aid struggling music people in three key areas: mental health and addiction recovery services, health services, and human services.

For more information on each of those, visit here. To apply for assistance, click here. And to donate to MusiCares, head here.


"Museum" might be right there in the name, but there's a lot more to this precious sector of the Recording Academy.

The GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles doesn't just put on immersive exhibits that honor the legacies of musical giants; it's a hub for music education.

At press time, more than 20,000 students have visited the Museum, more than 10,000 students have participated in the Museum's Clive Davis theater, and 20,000 students have participated in their GRAMMY Camp weekends.

To donate to the GRAMMY Museum, click here. To become a member, visit here.

Give a Beat

By now, the evidence is ironclad: Giving incarcerated people access to music and art dramatically increases morale and decreases recidivism.

Give a Beat is keenly aware of this, both on direct-impact and mentorship levels.

The org hosts classes for incarcerated people, in order for them to "find healing, transformation, and empowerment" through its Prison Electronic Music Program, which helps incarcerated folks wade deep into the fields of music production and DJing.

Its On a New Track Reentry Mentoring Program initiative connects music industry professionals with formerly incarcerated individuals in order to transfer their skills into a professional setting.

To become a member of Give a Beat, click here. To donate, visit here.

Jazz Foundation of America

Despite being at the heart of American musical expression, jazz, blues and roots can sometimes feel roped off on the sidelines of the music industry — and its practitioners can slip between society's cracks.

That's where the Jazz Foundation of America comes in. They aid musicians struggling to hang onto their homes, connect physicians and specialists with uninsured artists and help musicians get back on their feet after life-upending natural disasters.

To donate to the Jazz Foundation, click here; for all other info, visit their website.

The Blues Foundation

Headquartered in Memphis, the Blues Foundation aims to preserve the history and heritage of the blues — which lies at the heart of all American forms. This goes not only for irreplaceable sites and artifacts, but the living, breathing people who continue to make it.

The Blues Foundation offers educational outreach, providing scholarships to youth performers to attend summer blues camps and workshops.

On top of that, in the early 2000s, they created the HART Fund to offer financial support to musicians in need of medical, dental, and vision care.

And for blues artists who have passed on, the HART Fund diverts money to their families  to ensure their loved ones would be guaranteed dignified funerals.

For more information on the Blues Foundation, visit here. To donate, click here.

Musicians Foundation

Founded all the way back when World War I broke out, the Musicians Foundation has spent more than a century cutting checks to musicians in times of need.

This includes financial grants to cover basic expenses, like medical and dental treatments, rents and mortgages and utilities. Submitted grant applications are reviewed by their staff and a screening committee. If approved, the money is dispatched rapidly and directly to the debtor to relieve financial pressure as soon as possible.

The Musicians Foundation's philanthropic legacy is enshrined in Century of Giving, a comprehensive analysis of financial aid granted to musicians and their families by the Foundation since 1914.

For more information, visit here; click here to donate.

Music Maker Foundation

Based in North Carolina, the Music Maker Foundation tends to the day-to-day needs of American roots artists — helping them negotiate crises so they can "keep roofs over their heads, food on their tables, [and] instruments in their hands."

This relief comes in the forms of basic sustenance, resources performance (like booking venues and providing CDs to sell) and spreading education about their contributions to the American roots canon.

Check out their website for more information; to donate, click here.

Sweet Relief: Musicians Fund

When music people are in danger, this charitable organization sees no barriers of genre, region or nature of crisis.

If you're a musician suffering from physical, mental or financial hardship — whether it be due to a disability, an affliction like cancer, or anything else — Sweet Relief has got your back.

There are numerous ways to support Sweet Relief; you can become a partner, intern or volunteer, or simply chip in a few bucks for one of their various funds to keep their selfless work moving.

For any and all further information, visit their website.

Music Workers Alliance

The Recording Academy's concern and consideration for music people hardly stops at musicians — they're here to support all music people.

They share this operating principle with Music Workers Alliance, which tirelessly labors to ensure music people are treated like they matter — and are fairly remunerated for their efforts.

This takes many forms, like fighting for music workers at the federal, state and city level for access to benefits and fair protections, and ensuring economic justice and fair working conditions.

Music Workers Alliance also fights for economic justice on the digital plane, and aims to provide equal access for people of color and other underrepresented groups in the industry.

For more info, visit their website; for ways to get involved, click here.

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