Photo: Leigh Vogel / Getty Images for the Recording Academy
Here's What Went Down At GRAMMYs on the Hill Advocacy Day 2023, A Fight For All Music Creators On Capitol Hill
During Advocacy Day 2023, advocates shared stories as artists and discussed with lawmakers how supporting pro-music legislation can have a life-changing impact on the music community.
On Thurs. April 27th, the Recording Academy took to Capitol Hill alongside GRAMMY winners and nominees to advocate for creators' rights. Throughout the day, the group met with nearly 40 congressional offices to raise awareness and gain support for the issues facing music makers across America.
The Recording Academy concluded the Advocacy Day by joining Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) and Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) for a press conference to announce the reintroduction of the Restoring Artistic Protection Act.
This bill, which was a key focus throughout GRAMMYs on the Hill Advocacy Day, would protect the First Amendment Rights of Artists by limiting the use of an artist's lyrics as evidence in federal criminal proceedings.
Similar legislation has become law, or is advancing toward becoming law, in a number of states including California, Louisiana, Missouri, and New York.
In addition to discussing the Restoring Artistic Protection Act with lawmakers, the Recording Academy also advocated for passing the Help Independent Tracks Succeed (HITS) Act, reforming the live event and concert ticket marketplace, and building support for the American Music Fairness Act (AMFA). Some of the advocates also discussed ways AI is impacting the music industry.
Among the advocates were Recording Academy CEO, Harvey Mason jr.; thirteen-time GRAMMY Winner and this year's GRAMMYs on the Hill Honoree, Pharrell Williams; five-time GRAMMY winner and Trustee on the Recording Academy's National Advocacy Committee, Angélique Kidjo; GRAMMY Nominee for Best New Artist, Tobe Nwigwe; GRAMMY Nominees for Song of the Year, GAYLE and JP Saxe; GRAMMY Nominees for Best New Artist, DOMi and JD Beck; three-time GRAMMY Nominee, Victoria Monet; two-time GRAMMY Nominee and Board Member of the Recording Academy's Nashville Chapter, Armond Hutton; two-time GRAMMY nominee, Tank Ball of Tank and the Bangas; and many others.
During their meetings, the advocates had the opportunity to share their stories as artists and discuss with lawmakers how supporting pro-music legislation can have a life-changing impact on the music community.
Whether it's protecting the ability to write lyrics without fear of prosecution, passing the HITS Act so music production receives the same tax treatment as film, television, and theatre, or ensuring fair pay for artists on the radio, each advocate used their experiences to drive home the need for lawmakers to pass these pieces of legislation.
Over the course of GRAMMYs on the Hill Advocacy Day, the Recording Academy met with dozens of Members of Congress including Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), House Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar (D-CA), House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH), House Ways and Means Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO), Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Rep. Ken Buck (R-OH), Rep. Sydney Kamalager-Dove (D-CA), and more influential leaders.
Although GRAMMYs on the Hill Advocacy Day only occurs on an annual basis, the Recording Academy looks forward to continuing to advocate for pro-music legislation year round!
How The 2023 GRAMMYs On The Hill Awards Addressed The Changing Music Landscape, Celebrated Music Champions & Pushed The Industry Toward Progress
Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Urban One Honors
4 Ways Pharrell Williams Has Made An Impact: Supporting The Music Industry, Amplifying Social Issues & More
From advocacy and activism to music education and philanthropy, trailblazing superproducer Pharrell Williams uses his global reach to enact social change and inspire the masses — which is exactly why he's a 2023 GRAMMYs On The Hill honoree.
Thirteen-time GRAMMY winner Pharrell Williams understands how to wield his influence for the betterment of humanity. When he's not in the studio making award-winning music, the prolific multihyphenate spends his time supporting causes like education, sustainable fashion, conservation, and human rights, and leverages his platform to make change happen — creating a blueprint for merging passions with social causes.
The visionary's philanthropic reach is awe-inspiring. Since establishing his first non-profit, From One Hand to AnOTHER, in 2008 — a six-week summer camp that offers learning programs focused on science, technology and the arts to children from low-income families — Williams has given a host of communities access to resources, tools and life-changing opportunities. He's helped build an after-school center in his hometown of Virginia Beach, offered internships to students from Harlem, New York, and launched a non-profit initiative for Black and Latinx entrepreneurs on the heels of the 2020 racial justice protests.
Ultimately, the mega-producer wants to make the world a better place for future generations, which shines through in his dedication to education, climate action and equality. By taking action to tackle these big-picture issues, Williams is showing others in his position that it's possible to do what you love and make a difference in the world.
To mark Williams' efforts and their impacts, the multihyphenate will be honored alongside U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) at this year's GRAMMYs On The Hill in Washington D.C. The annual event spotlights congressional leaders and music makers who have worked together to raise awareness and pass legislation to help ensure fair pay and equal rights for creators.
Ahead of the event on April 26 and 27, take a look at four ways Williams has supported the music industry — and beyond.
He Advocates For The Protection Of Creators' Rights
Williams has made a concerted effort to negotiate with labels for control of his music, and he uses his platform to help fight for equality and equity for all artists. "I shouldn't be the only one with this preferred deal," Williams said to the head of Columbia Records after negotiating a deal to own his masters in 2015. "All artists should own their intellectual property — otherwise you're just working for someone else. It's really weird: They own the fields where you and God have laid the seeds; you do the harvesting, but they have the ownership."
Williams has consistently highlighted the importance of ownership in music, and his push to usher in new protections for artists extends to the virtual world. In 2021, the music mogul joined the advisory council of CXIP DAO, a decentralized organization that allows creators to protect their copyrights and manage their digital assets.
Read More: Everything You Need To Know About GRAMMYs On The Hill 2023: What It Is, Who It Benefits & What It Has Accomplished
He Supports And Funds Arts & Music Education Programs
Williams got his musical start as a drummer in elementary school before taking band in middle school, where he met a similarly music-minded classmate named Chad Hugo, his future production partner in the Neptunes. Along with support from his grandmother, this educational experience shaped Williams into the innovator he is today, and encouraged him to center much of his philanthropy on the arts and education as a whole.
"I want all children to have access to that kind of creative growth, access, and support. All kids, not just my own," Pharrell told Billboard in 2019.
His actions have shown just that: In 2009, Williams' non-profit launched a Summer of Innovation camp in association with NASA. His foundation would go on to donate school supplies and offer free after-school programs and camps to kids from his hometown areas.
In 2018, the "Happy" singer partnered with American Express Platinum for The Yellow Ball, a fundraising event at the Brooklyn Museum to benefit Young Audiences Arts for Learning. Soon after, he joined forces with Verizon to launch a tech-forward music curriculum for underserved middle schools all over the country, which provides students with access to virtual reality, 3D printers and other emerging technology.
He Launched A Private School
Back in 2021, Williams took his education advocacy to the next level when he announced the launch of Yellowhab, a tuition-free private school for third to sixth graders from low-income families in his home state of Virginia. Always innovating, Williams's micro-school takes "a future-forward approach" to learning that includes using tech and other methods to immerse students in the educational process.
"If the system is fixed and unfair, then it needs to be broken," Williams said in a press release. "We don't want lockstep learning where so many kids fall behind; we want bespoke learning designed for each child, where the things that make a child different are the same things that will make a child rise up and take flight."
He Uses Fashion To Help Global Causes
The fashion influencer has created a number of clothing and accessory lines throughout his career, from the Billionaire Boys Club label to its many offshoots. He's partnered with high-profile brands to create collections that raise awareness and funding for socially conscious causes; in December 2022, his global lifestyle brand ICECREAM collabed with Mini USA for a capsule collection whose proceeds went to Polar Bears International, a non-profit that works to protect the endangered species.
But with eight million metric tons of plastic in the ocean, his sustainable denim collection with Bionic Yarns may be his most socially impactful. Over a two-year period, this collaboration converted an estimated seven million plastic bottles into clothing items.
"We are trying to infiltrate the entire spectrum of fashion, high-end and low. It's a part of sustainability and the cause is to never throw anything [plastics and trash] into the ocean again," Williams told Women's Wear Daily in 2014. "The ocean is just one part of the earth we're concentrating on, but the world is made up of 75 to 80 percent water. It's a huge place to start."
Inside GRAMMYs On The Hill 2023: How The Recording Academy Will Fight For Creator's Rights