Photo: NEIL GODWIN/TOTAL GUITAR MAGAZINE/GETTY IMAGES
Copyright Office Names Mechanical Licensing Collective
Ahead of schedule, the U.S. Copyright Office chooses who will run the MLC and recognizes the Academy's helpful input through the selection process
The day after Independence Day saw a surprise from the U.S. Copyright Office. In accordance with the Music Modernization Act (MMA), the Office made its designation for the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC), choosing Mechanical Licensing Collective, Inc. (MLCI) to manage the new blanket mechanical license and handle royalty collection and distribution as established by the MMA. Under the statute, the designation was due on July 9.
The MLCI, the group submission led by led by the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) and the Songwriters of North America (SONA), ultimately prevailed over a competing proposal known as the American Music Licensing Collective (AMLC). In making the designation, the Copyright Office concludes that the "AMLC’s goals and principles are laudable, and its submission includes a number of ideas that should be given further consideration," but that ultimately "MLCI’s planning and organizational detail provide a more reliable basis for concluding that it will be able to meet the MLC’s administrative obligations." The MLC will begin issuing the new license in January 2021.
The 88-page Final Rule released by the Copyright Office also includes the designation for the Digital Licensing Coordinator (DLC), the entity that will represent the interests of the digital streaming services that use the new blanket license. Only one candidate, which includes representatives from Spotify, Amazon, Apple, Google, and Pandora, was submitted for consideration as the DLC.
Along with their ahead-of-schedule designation, the Copyright Office cited the Recording Academy's comments frequently in its Final Rule, noting how the Academy’s input informed its decision-making process. In the final analysis of the determination, the Copyright Office buttresses its conclusion by recognizing that “the Recording Academy, a rare organization to withhold endorsement until it was able to study each candidates' proposals, weighed in on the perceived capabilities of the two proposals, ultimately endorsing MLCI ‘upon careful consideration of both submissions.’ The Academy noted that MLCI’s 'submission embodies a thoughtful, meticulous, and comprehensive approach,' concluding that it was 'best equipped to satisfy' the duties of the MMA.”
The Copyright Office then followed the Academy’s lead, concluding that “[f]or somewhat similar reasons, the Copyright Office concludes that MLCI is better equipped to operationalize the many statutory functions required by the MMA.”
Earlier, the Final Rule notes the Academy’s specific interest in ensuring that the MLC conducts robust matching of song data with unclaimed funds, highlighting that the “Recording Academy urged the Register to seek further information on MLCI’s commitments to match works and on when such commitments may reasonably be exhausted.”
The Copyright Office affirms the preeminence of reliable data matching and the Final Rule details the commitments and assurances provided by the MLCI to accomplish that goal. The Office also establishes its interpretation of the MMA that unclaimed accrued royalties may be held beyond the statutory holding period until such funds are matched to the appropriate owners. Accordingly, unclaimed royalties can be released and distributed by the MLC no sooner than January 2023, but they can also be held longer to facilitate continued matching.
The Office also calls out the importance of a game plan for outreach from the MLC to make sure that every songwriter is fully informed about the new entity and its importance. Outreach to the songwriter community was also a key issue in the Academy's recommendations.
"The Recording Academy asserts that 'without an effective outreach program, the Collective will not succeed,'" the rule reads. "While noting that both proposals contain information regarding public outreach, the Recording Academy suggests that both are insufficiently detailed with respect to clear and executable plans, and how each will measure the effectiveness of outreach. The Office questioned each candidate about specific plans and metrics in subsequent meetings."
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The Copyright Office has designated entities to serve as the mechanical licensing collective and the digital licensee coordinator under the Music Modernization Act. <a href="https://t.co/8TSg9i8qfC">https://t.co/8TSg9i8qfC</a></p>— US Copyright Office (@CopyrightOffice) <a href="https://twitter.com/CopyrightOffice/status/1147158412016390146?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">July 5, 2019</a></blockquote><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Ultimately, the Copyright Office was satisfied by the answers provided by MLCI in response to the questions the Academy put forward for consideration. Recording Academy chief industry government and member relations officer Daryl Friedman thanked those involved in the decision making for considering the Academy's stance and input. "The Recording Academy congratulates the MLC, Inc. on its selection to run the new Collective, and thanks the Copyright Office for its diligence in its selection process that reflects attentiveness to the Academy’s comments," Friedman said. "The Academy now looks forward to utilizing its Chapters and thousands of members to assist the MLC in songwriter outreach to ensure the Collective’s success."
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Today's House Judiciary Committee hearing touched on crucial copyright matters such as setting up the MLC for success, passing the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CASEAct?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CASEAct</a>, and more.<a href="https://t.co/yhRmxWkKVw">https://t.co/yhRmxWkKVw</a></p>— GRAMMY Advocacy (@GRAMMYAdvocacy) <a href="https://twitter.com/GRAMMYAdvocacy/status/1144082816256360448?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">June 27, 2019</a></blockquote><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
The MLC's success is important for everyone in the music community, but especially the songwriters who deserve fair, transparent compensation for their work. With the MLCI now primed to take over this significant role in implementing the MMA, the Academy stands ready to continue to leverage its community of music creators to support building a better system for all.
Photo: Maury Phillips
Here’s What Went Down At The 5th Annual GRAMMY Advocacy Brunch Ahead Of The 2024 GRAMMYs
The significance of the GRAMMY Advocacy Brunch transcends a one-time gathering; it embodies a commitment to addressing crucial matters such as copyright protection, fair compensation, and freedom of expression throughout the year.
Despite the rainy Los Angeles weather, the 5th annual GRAMMY Advocacy Brunch dazzled at the Sun Rose during this year's GRAMMY Week. Hosted by the Recording Academy’s Advocacy Department and GRAMMY-winning duo, Brothers Osborne, the Brunch serves as a fundraiser for the GRAMMY Fund for Music Creators, ensuring that the Recording Academy continues to champion the most pressing issues facing music creators on Capitol Hill and beyond.
The significance of the GRAMMY Advocacy Brunch transcends a one-time gathering; it embodies a commitment to addressing crucial matters such as copyright protection, fair compensation, and freedom of expression throughout the year. This annual fundraiser showcases the Recording Academy's unwavering dedication to effecting lasting change on the policies that impact music and music makers.
This year, T.J. and John Osborne of Brothers Osborne co-hosted the event and joined Recording Academy’s Chief Advocacy and Public Policy Officer, Todd Dupler, in a conversation about their advocacy efforts and anticipation for the 66th GRAMMY Awards taking place the following day. The country duo has garnered significant acclaim in the music industry, including a total of twelve GRAMMY nominations. They won their first GRAMMY for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for their single "Younger Me" at the 64th Annual GRAMMY Awards in 2022. At the 66th GRAMMY Awards, Brothers Osborne received two nominations for Best Country Album and Best Country Duo/Group Performance.
Brothers Osborne’s presence at the GRAMMY Advocacy Brunch highlights their commitment to using their platform to advocate for meaningful change for musicians and artists alike. Their participation served as a testament to the power of artists to effect positive change and accentuated the importance of advocacy within the music community.
Other notable guests included Taylor Hanson, President of the Recording Academy’s Texas Chapter and member of the three-time GRAMMY nominated band HANSON. Adding to the prestigious lineup was GRAMMY winner Tony Succar, a Florida Chapter Governor and multifaceted musician and producer excelling in salsa, jazz, and pop genres. Succar is also a two-time Latin GRAMMY winner and a five-time Latin GRAMMY nominee, and was nominated at the 66th GRAMMY Awards for Best Tropical Latin Album.
During his conversation with Brothers Osborne, Dupler highlighted pivotal legislation like the Save Our Stages Act — a landmark federal investment in the arts that totaled approximately sixteen billion dollars and which the Brothers were major advocates for.
As part of their advocacy efforts and in response to the challenges posed by COVID-19 and shutdowns, Brothers Osborne participated in a virtual concert to lend their support to this legislation and to live music venues affected by the pandemic. Dupler also asked the Brothers Osborne about their recent experiences talking about the importance of mental health, and their nominated song, “Nobody’s Nobody,” which speaks to themes of inclusivity and belonging.
The program also included Michael Lewan, Managing Director of Advocacy & Public Policy, discussing the Advocacy team's extensive efforts over the past year, spanning diverse areas such as AI, ticketing, and federal and state issues. "As a result of these partnerships, the Recording Academy and our members serve as trusted authorities, offering crucial perspectives on policy discussions that impact the arts and the arts community," Lewan declared, highlighting significant advocacy collaborations from 2023. These included commemorating the 50th anniversary of hip-hop at Vice President Harris' residence in Washington, D.C., and partnering with the U.S. Department of State to launch the Global Music Diplomacy Initiative.
Transitioning to State Advocacy, Lewan emphasized the progress made across thirteen states nationwide in advancing positive pro-music legislation and stopping harmful legislation for the music community. The efforts encompassed ten chapter activations, ranging from board letters to virtual grassroots actions and in-person meetings. Additionally, in 2023, five bills advanced across the nation, notably the passage of the RAP Act into law in Louisiana. Lewan concluded his remarks highlighting that 2,500 Academy members actively engaged in advocacy work throughout 2023.
The GRAMMY Advocacy Brunch not only brings together music makers, advocates and creatives but also serves as a catalyst for raising funds to support the Recording Academy's critical advocacy efforts year-round. Through engaging discussions, networking opportunities, and a shared commitment to advancing the interests of music creators, the brunch exemplifies the collaborative spirit at the heart of the Recording Academy's advocacy endeavors.
Photo: Monica Schipper/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
How The Recording Academy Tackled The Evolving Landscape Of Music & AI During GRAMMY Week 2024
During a House Judiciary Committee hearing on artificial intelligence, Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. addressed the potential benefits and challenges of rapidly developing AI technologies and their impact on the music industry.
Last week, Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. served as one of four witnesses at the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee of Intellectual Property's Field Hearing on "Artificial Intelligence and Intellectual Property: Part II – Identity in the Age of AI." During his time in front of the subcommittee, held at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Friday, Feb. 2, during GRAMMY Week 2024, Mason jr. illuminated on the dual nature of artificial intelligence (AI), highlighting its potential for innovation alongside the accompanying challenges and uncertainties.
"The Recording Academy is in the business of celebrating human excellence and human creativity," Mason jr. shared in his opening testimony. "That was the biggest concern when we crafted our GRAMMY Award policies. We understand that AI is a part of our industry and here to stay, but our awards guidelines stay true to our mission to honor the people behind the music we love so much. Only human creators are eligible to be submitted for consideration for, nominated for, or win a GRAMMY Award."
Additionally, joining Mason jr. were University of Pennsylvania Law Professor Jennifer Rothman, SIIA President Christopher Mohr, and singer/songwriter Lainey Wilson, the latter of whom just won the GRAMMY for Best Country Album at the 2024 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 66th GRAMMY Awards.
"I use my music and my voice to tell stories, to connect to my fans, and to help them connect with each other," Wilson proclaimed. "There aren't many things we can control in life, but making decisions about the use of our own selves, our own unique qualities — that should be one."
In their testimony, Mason jr. and Wilson both spotlighted the No AI FRAUD Act, which is supported by many committee members.
"The bill establishes in federal law that an individual has a personal property right in the use of their image and voice. That's just common sense, and it is long overdue. The bill also empowers individuals to enforce this right against those who facilitate, create, and spread AI frauds without their permission," Mason jr. highlighted.
Reps. Maria Salazar (R-FL), Madeline Dean (D-PA), Nathaniel Moran (R-TX), Rob Wittman (R-VA), and Joe Morelle (D-NY) introduced the No AI FRAUD Act (H.R. 6943) last month. In support of the bill, the Academy worked closely with the global Human Artistry CampAIgn to garner signatures from more than 280 artists, actors and performers, including 21 Savage, Cardi B, Mary J. Blige, Vince Gill, and Smokey Robinson.
Wilson, who also signed on to the campaign, echoed Mason jr.'s support. "AI increasingly affects every single one of us," she said. "We need artists to keep telling stories and connecting with fans and bringing people together authentically. We need to keep humanity in art — we cannot lose that. The No AI FRAUD Act is a great place to start."
Mason jr.'s remarks underscored the importance of respecting an artist's agency when it comes to the evolving landscape of AI. He understands that AI is "here to stay" and that because of this, artists must navigate the intersection of technology and artistic expression. The Recording Academy wants to help artists through this navigation.
"For us, it really comes down to choice," Mason jr. expressed during questioning. "If an artist would like to participate in creating music through AI or allow others to utilize their voice, we believe there should be a choice, and some will want to do that. And as Lainey said, some would rather not. As long as they're credited properly and they have certain approval rights, and there's a way for them to be paid fairly, we see that as a possibility."
Mason jr. also spoke on his vision for the future of generative AI in music.
"My hopes are that we can use it as a tool to amplify human creativity. My hopes around AI is that we can find some guidelines around it for creators that are always early adopters of technology to use it to benefit them and to bring more great creativity, more works of art to the fans and to the world."
Taking a stand against AI fraud within the music industry is not an easy battle, but the Recording Academy is at the forefront of this fight and will continue work to preserve and honor human creativity in the face of advancing AI technologies. To join the Academy in this important fight, send a message to your lawmakers in support of the No AI FRAUD Act via the Academy's action center. Your support can make a difference in preserving the integrity of music and empowering artists in the digital age.
Photo courtesy of the Recording Academy®. Photo by Paul Morigi by Getty Images ® 2023.
Looking Back On 2023: A Rundown Of The Recording Academy’s Advocacy Accomplishments
The Recording Academy looks back on the many advocacy accomplishments achieved in 2023 — which wouldn’t have been possible without our membership.
As 2024 gets underway, the Recording Academy is taking a moment to look back on the many advocacy accomplishments achieved in 2023. These accomplishments would not have been possible without the dedication and help of our Recording Academy members.
Thanks to them, the past year was filled with meaningful change that will impact the music community for years to come.
Groundbreaking Partnership Launched WIth The State Department
Last year, the Recording Academy partnered with the U.S. Department of State to launch the Global Music Diplomacy Initiative.
This new partnership will amplify the power of music to uplift people around the world and includes the American Music Mentorship Program, a program created to connect Academy members with international music professionals, as well as the Quincy Jones Peace Through Music Award.
Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. joined Secretary Antony Blinken at a special event on September 27 to announce and celebrate the initiative.
Leading The Way To Protect Human Creativity
On March 16, the Recording Academy partnered with key stakeholders in the music community to launch the Human Artistry CampAIgn, a movement to protect human art and creativity as artificial intelligence (AI) continues to develop.
The Academy also worked closely with theUnited States Copyright Office and key lawmakers on Capitol Hill to ensure music creators are at the forefront of AI conversations across the country. On March 22, Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. hosted the U.S. Register of Copyrights in Los Angeles to provide a firsthand look at the ways AI is impacting music.
Throughout the year, the Academy and the Advocacy Team participated in panels, forums, and events to help shape the debate on AI.
On May 31, the Academy's Michael Lewan participated in a panel discussion with the Copyright Office to provide insight on the use of AI as a tool to help creativity, the need for copyright protection, and the importance of protecting an artist's name, image, and likeness from being used in AI generated content.
New Victories Won In The Fight For Free Expression
On April 27, the Restoring Artistic Protection Act was reintroduced in the House of Representatives during GRAMMYs on the Hill Advocacy Day.
Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. and other Academy leaders and members spent the day on Capitol Hill fighting for the rights of music creators before joining Members of Congress for a press conference announcing the bill's reintroduction.
The Academy also made new progress to protect free expression for artists in states across the country. On August 1, the Restoring Artistic Protection Act (HB 475) took effect in Louisiana, making it the second state in the nation to enact a law that protects a creator from having their artistic expression used against them in court. We made notable progress to advance similar legislation in Missouri and New York.
Foundation Laid For Comprehensive Ticketing Reform
On December 7, a bipartisan group of senators introduced the Fans First Act with the support and endorsement of the Recording Academy.
The Academy worked closely with Senate offices throughout the year to craft this legislation which reforms the ticketing marketplace to protect artists and their fans.
The House of Representatives also advanced ticketing legislation with the Academy's input, setting the stage for comprehensive reform to pass Congress in 2024.
***Vice President Kamala Harris. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for the Recording Academy***
Celebrating The 50th Anniversary Of Hip-Hop
On September 9, Vice President Kamala Harris and the Recording Academy's Black Music Collective hosted the ultimate celebration of hip-hop at the Vice President's Residence. The historic event, led by the Academy's DEI Team, honored the global impact and influence of the genre.
On September 13, the Academy joined Members of Congress at the Capitol for a press conference celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip-hop and highlighting a resolution to recognize hip-hop's contribution to American art and culture.
Similarly, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced and passed a resolution designating August 11 as "Hip-Hop Celebration Day," the month of August as "Hip-Hop Recognition Month," and the month of November as "Hip-Hop History Month."
*The Recording Academy's New York Chapter with Rep. Jerry Nadler. Photo: Rob Kim/Getty Images for the Recording Academy*
First GRAMMY Advocacy Conference Extends The Reach Of District Advocate Day
Despite having to adapt to unprecedented gridlock in Congress, the Recording Academy's annual District Advocate Day expanded its reach by producing the first ever GRAMMY Advocacy Conference.
Academy members still spent District Advocate Day meeting with nearly 100 Congressional offices, but they also had the opportunity to learn more about key issues impacting the music community through this special virtual conference.
State Advocacy Takes Off Across the Country
Throughout 2023, the Recording Academy expanded the scope of its advocacy reach by working on issues facing the music community in 13 different states including California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Washington, and Oklahoma.
Some examples include the members of the Texas Chapter meeting with state government officials in Oklahoma to elevate the local music community. The Recording Academy also worked in Pennsylvania to advance a bill to ban fraudulent, speculative concert tickets, while defeating anti-artist ticketing bills in Florida, Georgia, and Washington.
*Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images*
Bringing Creators’ Voices To Key Policy Debates
On January 24, Academy member Clyde Lawrence of the band Lawrence testified in front of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary at a hearing titled, "That's the Ticket: Promoting Competition and Protecting Consumers in Live Entertainment." Lawrence's testimony kickstarted a year-long focus on ticketing reform.
On June 27, Academy member and two-time GRAMMY winning songwriter, producer, and artist, Daniel Tashian, testified as the only active music maker at the House Judiciary Committee's field hearing in Nashville. The hearing examined the effectiveness of the Music Modernization Act (MMA) five years after it became law.
Academy’s Music Army Continues To Grow
Throughout 2023, we continued to expand opportunities for Academy members to get involved in our advocacy work.
Over 2,500 Academy members participated in various advocacy initiatives, proving time and time again that the Recording Academy is a force to be reckoned with in Washington, D.C. and in state capitals across the country.
The Recording Academy looks forward to continuing this work throughout 2024 — and continuing the fight for all music people worldwide.
Photo: Tetra Images - Henryk Sadura via Getty Images
House & Senate Take Critical Steps Toward Ticketing Reform: Learn How
On Capitol Hill, bipartisan lawmakers took two important steps to systemically reform and regulate the live event ticket marketplace.
The week of Dec. 4, 2023, will go down as one of the most momentous weeks in the history of the live events industry, and not because of any record-breaking tour or major sporting event. Instead, the action took place on Capitol Hill, where bipartisan lawmakers took two important steps to systemically reform and regulate the live event ticket marketplace.
After months of angry calls and tweets from Swifties and the Bey Hive, multiple Congressional hearings, and a convening of artists, venue operators, managers, ticket sellers, and consumers, members of Congress showed a true commitment to modernizing the way tickets are sold across the country, protecting consumers from deceptive and predatory practices.
The action began in the House Energy and Commerce Committee on December 6th, where in a unanimous bipartisan vote, the Committee passed the TICKET Act (H.R. 3950) bringing the bill to be considered by the full House of Representatives in 2024 — a crucial step in addressing the longstanding issues surrounding the sale of concert tickets.
The TICKET Act, which the Recording Academy advocated for during its annual District Advocate day, aims to stop predatory practices and create a positive shift towards a more fair and accessible ticketing landscape. The legislation aims to bring forth greater transparency in pricing by mandating an upfront, all-in price — however the Recording Academy is working to further strengthen the bill to ensure the face value price and fees are clearly itemized upfront to give consumers a better understanding of the actual costs associated with their ticket purchases.
The TICKET Act also aims to dismantle predatory practices that have become common within the secondary ticketing market. Brokers and resellers, known for buying tickets and reselling them at exorbitant prices, have long been a source of frustration for fans. The legislation aims to stop two harmful practices — the selling of speculative tickets and the use of deceptive marketing tactics like fake websites. Put together these reforms will help make sure that tickets reach fans from trusted sources and at fair prices set by the artist.
The next day, on Dec. 7, a bipartisan group of six senators, led by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), introduced the Fans First Act (S. 3457), arguably the most ambitious set of ticket reforms ever contemplated by Congress. The bill includes a number of pro-consumer and pro-artist provisions including transparent pricing, banning speculative tickets and deceptive marketing tactics, and cracking down on ticket bots.
The Recording Academy played a pivotal role in shaping the bill and worked closely with the authors to craft the legislation and incorporate artists’ perspectives. Upon introduction, Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. expressed the organization's endorsement of the Fans First Act, stating, "We urge Congress to act on this bill quickly and continue its effort to protect both artists and fans by increasing transparency and limiting bad actors that take away from the joyous experience of live music."
With the bill’s introduction, and referral to the Senate Commerce Committee, it has begun the initial steps in the legislative process. Much like the TICKET Act in the House, the Fans First Act ensures that fans have a clear understanding of the total cost of their tickets upfront, while taking a strong stance against speculative tickets and deceptive marketing tactics. Moreover, the bill contains a number of enhanced regulatory tools for the Federal Trade Commission to enforce illegal ticket bots. As a comprehensive package, the Fans First Act provides a more secure and trustworthy environment for fans to purchase tickets for events.
The Recording Academy remains committed to advancing ticket marketplace reform in 2024 to protect artists and their fans. With the TICKET Act and the Fans First Act, true reform is possible.