Photo of (L-R) Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. and U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken speak onstage during the launch of the Global Music Diplomacy Initiative at the U.S. Department of State on September 27, 2023, in Washington, D.C.
(L-R) Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. and U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken speak onstage during the launch of the Global Music Diplomacy Initiative at the U.S. Department of State on September 27, 2023, in Washington, D.C.

Photos: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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The Recording Academy Partners With U.S. Secretary Of State Antony J. Blinken To Launch The Global Music Diplomacy Initiative; Quincy Jones Awarded Inaugural Peace Through Music Award

The global initiative will promote diplomacy through music worldwide and will also feature the American Music Mentorship Program, which will see Recording Academy professionals and members provide mentorship opportunities to international participants.

Advocacy/Sep 28, 2023 - 05:56 pm

Continuing its mission to ensure that music remains an indelible part of our culture around the world, the Recording Academy has partnered with the U.S. Department of State and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken to help launch the Global Music Diplomacy Initiative, an international initiative that will promote peace, diplomacy and democracy through music worldwide. Using music as a diplomatic tool globally, the initiative will leverage public-private partnerships to create a music ecosystem that expands economic equity and elevates the creative economy, ensures societal opportunity and inclusion, and increases access to education. The Global Music Diplomacy Initiative will also build on existing public diplomacy music programs to create partnerships with American companies and nonprofits to convey American leadership globally and create connections with people worldwide.

The Global Music Diplomacy Initiative also includes the American Music Mentorship Program, a partnership between the State Department and the Recording Academy, which will bring international mid-career music industry professionals and musical artists to the United States for mentorship and networking opportunities. The program will invite Recording Academy professionals and members to provide international participants with mentorship opportunities and professional development.

See a full outline of the Global Music Diplomacy Initiative below.

Secretary Blinken announced the Global Music Diplomacy Initiative Sept. 27 during a lively celebration at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. He signaled the start of the inaugural event by highlighting its attendees. "We have a few dignitaries come through this building, but it is a special treat to have so many members of music royalty here tonight," he said excitedly.

The evening engendered a melodic blend of music, peace and policy. The private event featured breathtaking performances from Dave Grohl, Herbie Hancock, Mickey Guyton, Armani White, and many other leading American and international artists. U2's Bono shared a special video message from Las Vegas as well.

Singer/songwriter Aimee Mann performed her 1999 song "Save Me" with the admission that she was "deeply honored but also a bit freaked out to be here."

Perhaps less nervous, Secretary Blinken added that he couldn't "pass up" the one-in-a-lifetime chance to "combine music and diplomacy," as he performed Muddy Water's 1954 classic, "Hoochie Coochie Man."

"If this doesn't clear the house, I don't know what will," Blinken said playfully ahead of his performance.

In addition to the performances, Secretary Blinken and Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. presented 28-time GRAMMY winner Quincy Jones with the inaugural Peace Through Music Award.

A collaboration between the Department and the Recording Academy, the award recognizes and honors an American music industry professional, artist, or group that has played an invaluable role in cross-cultural exchanges and whose music work advances peace and mutual understanding globally.

"His work, his actions continue to advance peace through music, and I am sure they will for generations to come," Mason jr. said. "It's my true honor to recognize my friend and mentor, Mr. Quincy Jones, as the first-ever recipient of what will now and into the future be known as the Quincy Jones Peace Through Music Award."

Read More: Mogul Moment: How Quincy Jones Became An Architect Of Black Music

The Global Music Diplomacy Initiative was developed pursuant to the bipartisan Promoting Peace, Education, And Cultural Exchange (PEACE) Through Music Diplomacy Act, which was championed by the Recording Academy and its members in 2022 at GRAMMYs On The Hill and during the annual grassroots District Advocate Day. The legislation, introduced by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Tex.), was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden in December 2022.

Here's a complete breakdown of the Global Music Diplomacy Initiative:

  • American Music Mentorship Program

The American Music Mentorship Program, a partnership between the U.S. Department of State and the Recording Academy, will bring international mid-career music industry professionals, which may include musical artists, to the United States for mentorship and networking opportunities, with an aim to cultivate a professional music industry ecosystem locally and globally, to support creative talent, and to strengthen the creative economy globally. It will leverage the networks and experience of Recording Academy professionals and members to provide international participants mentorship opportunities, boost their technical skills, and build the foundation for professional networks.  The first American Music Mentorship Program will be held in the fall of 2024.

  • Fulbright-Kennedy Center Visiting Scholar Award in Arts and Science

The Fulbright Program, the United States' flagship international academic exchange program, will collaborate with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to create a new fellowship opportunity for foreign scholars.  The new Fulbright-Kennedy Center Visiting Scholar Award in Arts and Science will focus on the intersections of the arts (music, dance, theater, etc.) and science, including how the arts can contribute to individual and global health and well-being, and the environment. An award competition will be announced in fall 2023, and the Kennedy Center will host the first scholar in academic year 2024-25.

  • Boosting English-Language Learning Through Music

Recognizing the strategic importance of English-language learning overseas, especially for youth and underserved communities, the Department will incorporate music into its existing $40 million investment in English-language learning worldwide, including through exchanges, curriculum, and scholarships to provide access to English-learning classes for promising students between the ages of 13 and 20.

The Department will augment broader global English-language learning by supporting Sing Out Loud, a program that provides resources for teaching English through music in collaboration with American Music Abroad (AMA), bringing music and lyrics into classrooms across the world.

In addition to the Secretary's announcements, the Global Music Diplomacy Initiative will include vast programming around the world, including:

  • Arts Envoys to Travel to the Middle East, People's Republic of China

Herbie Hancock, along with Dee Dee Bridgewater and the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Ensemble at the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA), will be performing in Jordan in October to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the 1963 Jazz Ambassador tour of the Duke Ellington Orchestra.

The Herbie Hancock tour will then travel to Saudi Arabia for a four-day Arts Envoy program – the first of its kind between the United States and Saudi Arabia.

From November 9-18, 2023, The Philadelphia Orchestra is slated to commemorate the 50th anniversary of its historic 1973 tour of the People's Republic of China (PRC) with Ensemble Performances and Residency Activities in multiple cities in the PRC.

  • Ten American Bands to Travel to 30 Countries Starting in October Through American Music Abroad; AMA Academy Cleveland to Host Young Professional Musicians from Ukrainian Diaspora

Beginning in October 2023 and representing multiple genres, Birckhead, The Beatbox House, The Invisibles, Marielle Kraft, Matthew Whitaker, Pipeline Vocal Project, Raining Jane, Sihasin, Sub-Radio, and Tap Music Project will travel to 30 countries from October 2023 through June 2024.

In November 2023, the 2023 American Music Abroad Academy Cleveland will bring together young professional musicians from the Ukrainian diaspora and around the world for collaboration and mentorship opportunities from American instructors with a focus on cultural preservation through music. Learn more about AMA here.

  • Next Level to Use Hip Hop in Nigeria, Bring International Artists to the U.S. to Focus on Conflict Transformation

In September 2023, four U.S. hip hop artists focusing on conflict transformation will travel to Lagos for a two-week Next Level Academy.  In addition, 10 international participants will travel to Washington, D.C. and New York, New York for a two-week professional development program on conflict transformation through hip hop. Learn more about Next Level here.

  • Scaling Social Entrepreneurship Projects, Strengthening Creative Economy Through OneBeat

From November 6-20, 2023, musicians from Ghana and Nigeria will come together to collaboratively create and discuss how music can bring people together through social entrepreneurship projects, as part of the OneBeat program. Learn more about OneBeat here.

  • Harmundi International Music Summit to Welcome Students from Every Continent in November 2023

Virtually connecting more than 60 international students from every continent through music, the Harmundi Summit will provide intense music training, cross-cultural collaboration, studio recording, and live performances under the mentorship of world-class musicians and producers.  The Summit, which will take place November 3-5, 2023, will be led by alumni of the Department's exchanges, and is part of the Department's Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund.  This fund provides grants of up to $10,000 for public service projects that utilize the skills, knowledge, and networks exchange alumni gained through their exchange experiences.

Learn more about the Global Music Diplomacy Initiative.

How Vice President Kamala Harris And The Recording Academy Celebrated The 50th Anniversary Of Hip-Hop: 'Hip-Hop Culture Is America's Culture'

Concert Crowd

Photo: Aaron Foster via Getty Images

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Ticketing Reforms Make A Big Leap In Maryland: Here's What You Need To Know

This legislation introduces a series of pivotal measures aimed at safeguarding consumers and enhancing transparency in the ticketing industry.

Advocacy/Apr 15, 2024 - 08:16 pm

The Recording Academy celebrated last week the advancement of improved ticketing reforms as Maryland achieves a groundbreaking milestone with the passage of SB 539. This legislative triumph not only means a new era of consumer and artist protections for live event tickets, but also positions Maryland as a national leader in holding ticket resellers accountable for fraudulent and deceptive practices hosted on their platforms.

"While fans suffer because of this broken system, so do artists" declares a collective statement of support from the Fix the Tix Coalition, which includes the Recording Academy as a founding member. "Predatory resellers view tickets as nothing more than commodities to be traded for outrageous sums, throwing away the cultural and communal value they provide for our society. They exist to undermine the hard work, talent, and livelihoods of artists, inserting themselves as unnecessary and unwanted middlemen who make their money off the backs of the artists and venues who partner to make these events happen."

This legislation introduces a series of pivotal measures aimed at safeguarding consumers and enhancing transparency in the ticketing industry. First, the bill prohibits deceptive practices such as the selling of speculative or counterfeit ticket sales, shielding concertgoers from exploitative practices used by some ticket brokers and resellers. Second, online ticket resale platforms will face increased accountability under Maryland's Consumer Protection Act.

Additionally, transparent pricing practices will be enforced throughout the ticket purchasing process, ensuring consumers have clear and accurate information. Most notably, this includes standards that ensure a breakdown of the face value price, and any fees, is made clear to the consumer throughout the purchase.  

"We're getting used to paying these exorbitant prices. It's funny, now if you get a ticket for face value, that's apparently a big deal," stated Delegate C.T. Wilson, who introduced the legislation in Maryland's House. "That shouldn't be a big deal. We've been tricked into accepting this."

The enforcement of SB 539 seeks to dismantle predatory practices that have long plagued the ticketing industry. From the moment a show is announced, genuine fans are confronted with the uphill battle against scalpers and resellers, who exploit loopholes and employ deceptive tactics to profit at the expense of both fans and artists.

"Legislation like SB 539 is vital to protecting fans, preserving equitable access to entertainment, and restoring balance to the currently broken ticketing ecosystem," the collective statement emphasizes. By removing the profit motive from these practices, such as using illegal bots and price gouging, Maryland's bold legislative actions sets a precedent for other states to follow suit in protecting consumer rights and ensuring a better concert experience for fans and artists alike.

The Recording Academy was one of the many stakeholders who actively worked to pass the legislation and will continue to work towards equitable ticketing practices across the country. There is a collective aspiration that the passage of this legislation in Maryland will serve as a catalyst for change at both the local and federal level.

The Academy remains a staunch advocate for ticketing reform, ensuring that every fan can enjoy the magic of live entertainment without fear of deception or exploitation.

The New York State Senate Passes Bill to Protect Creative Expression: Here's What You Need To Know

State Capital Building in Albany, New York
State Capital Building in Albany, New York

Photo: Thomas A. Ferrara/Newsday RM via Getty Images

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The New York State Senate Passes Bill to Protect Creative Expression: Here’s What You Need To Know

Led by Senators Hoylman-Sigal and Bailey, the senate passage of S. 1738 continues the forward momentum for creative expression in New York, signaling the state senate’s commitment to upholding free speech.

Advocacy/Apr 5, 2024 - 01:57 pm

In a significant stride towards protecting musicians' creative expression, the New York State Senate passed S. 1738 on March 27. This bill is aimed at safeguarding the free speech of artists, a fundamental part of making music. The Recording Academy has been a staunch advocate of S. 1738, working to advance the legislation in the last two legislative sessions of 2022 and 2023.

Led by Senators Hoylman-Sigal and Bailey, the senate passage of S. 1738 continues the forward momentum for free expression in New York, signaling the state senate’s commitment to upholding the fundamental rights of creators to express themselves through their art. The legislation stipulates that a defendant's artistic works, such as song lyrics, cannot be used as evidence against them in a criminal trial unless it can be proven beyond reasonable doubt that these expressions are admissible.

Researchers have identified nearly 700 cases where lyrics have been used as evidence against hip hop artists, including several dozen in New York. Protecting the First Amendment rights of New York artists is critical to prevent a chilling effect on the state’s music community that plays a vital role in the economic landscape of New York. The music industry in New York contributes close to $20 billion to the state's GDP annually, supporting over 200,000 jobs. From iconic recording studios in New York City to vibrant music scenes in upstate cities like Albany and Buffalo, the state's diverse music community contributes to its reputation as a global hub for creativity and innovation. New York attracts millions of visitors each year to experience live performances, music festivals, and other events throughout the state.

The Recording Academy's support for this legislation in New York is part of a broader effort to champion similar legislation across the country at the state level. In California and Louisiana, the Recording Academy played a pivotal role in passing new laws that solidified the protection of creators' free speech rights. Additionally, in Maryland, Missouri, and Georgia, the Academy has been advancing similar legislation. A recent Advocacy Day in Annapolis, supporting the PACE Act, allowed Recording Academy members from Maryland to meet with legislators and urge them to protect creative and artistic expression.

At the federal level, the Recording Academy has been advocating for the Restoring Artistic Protection Act, also known as the RAP Act since its introduction. Just like at the local level, this legislation aims to protect the First Amendment rights of artists nationwide. Recording Academy CEO, Harvey Mason jr., and Chair of the Recording Academy's Black Music Collective, Rico Love, released a statement during the introduction of the RAP Act in 2022:

"Today's introduction of the RAP Act in the House of Representatives is a crucial step forward in the ongoing battle to stop the weaponization of creative expression as a prosecution tactic," they stated, “ and we will continue to work…to advance the protections in this bill that ensure all artists can create freely without fear of their work being criminalized."

Now, with the successful passage of S. 1738 in the New York State Senate the Recording Academy will continue to work with Academy members to help advocate for this necessary legislation, including bringing Academy members to Albany next month to advocate for the bill’s passage through the state assembly. Ultimately, the goal is to see S. 1738 signed into law, providing much-needed protections for musicians and affirming New York's commitment to upholding the principles of free speech and artistic expression.  

As the legislative journey continues, Recording Academy advocates will continue to advance this critical piece of legislation and ensure that the voices of musicians are valued and protected in the state of New York.

A Victory In Tennessee: Governor Bill Lee Signs The ELVIS Act Into Law

ELVIS Act

Photo: Brandon Hull

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A Victory In Tennessee: Governor Bill Lee Signs The ELVIS Act Into Law

The signing ceremony hailed as the "coolest bill signing ever" by Gov. Lee, took place at Robert's Western World, an iconic Honky Tonk in downtown Nashville.

Advocacy/Mar 26, 2024 - 04:53 pm

On Thursday, March 21, the Recording Academy celebrated an extraordinary moment for Tennessee's vibrant music community as Governor Bill Lee signed the groundbreaking ELVIS Act into law. The signing ceremony hailed as the "coolest bill signing ever" by Gov. Lee, took place at Robert's Western World, an iconic Honky Tonk in downtown Nashville, showcasing the deep connection between music and culture in the state.

Surrounded by Country music stars Luke Bryan and Chris Janson, Gov. Lee emphasized the significance of protecting musicians, acknowledging their role in shaping Tennessee's identity and history. "This industry has helped forge and created the identity of this state" stated Gov. Lee, "and what you've done is not only created and forged our identity and our history here, but much of what is happening in this country."

When discussing the implications of what this legislation means for creators across the state, Gov. Lee highlighted the dangers of AI now being prevented. "[AI] can steal those gifts, it can impersonate those gifts, it can subsequently create fake works that rob those artists of their intellectual property that has made their success, and we can't let that happen. Tennessee should lead on this issue, and we are, this is the first bill of its kind."

Also attending the signing ceremony were Gebre Waddell, the Academy's national Secretary/Treasurer and Chair of the Tennessee Entertainment Commission, artists Natalie Grant and Matt Maher, who testified in support of the ELVIS Act before the Tennessee legislature, and additional artists and elected leaders representing the Academy's Memphis and Nashville Chapters.

In January, the Recording Academy joined Gov. Lee, House Majority Leader William Lamberth and Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson, and dozens of artists, songwriters, music executives, and industry groups to introduce the Ensuring Likeness, Voice, and Image Security (ELVIS) Act. The Recording Academy's support for the ELVIS Act, including advocacy days and mobilization of music creators, played a pivotal role in the bill's success. By uniting Tennessee's artists and legislators, the Recording Academy spearheaded a collective effort to combat AI fraud and safeguard the authenticity of music creation.

Tennessee has a booming music community that supports more than 61,000 jobs across the state and contributes $5.8 billion to the state's GDP. During the signing ceremony, Chris Janson highlighted his gratitude for this legislation supporting the growing music community in Tennessee. "This is a serious thing. I am a songwriter first; I've always said that; I'm an artist second. I love what I do, I'm grateful for my job, and I am so grateful for leadership who cares." Janson directly thanked the members of Tennessee's General Assembly for supporting this legislation. "We are grateful for you guys protecting our community," declared Janson, "Nashville is nothing without the music community."

The signing of the ELVIS Act marked a historic milestone as the first legislation in the nation focused on safeguarding the core elements of artistic identity, including voice and likeness, in the context of AI. This groundbreaking law updates Tennessee's existing right to publicity, extending protections to songwriters, performers, and all individuals' voices from exploitation by artificial intelligence.

The swift progress of the ELVIS Act through the Tennessee legislature reflects the industry's urgent need for such protections. "The Recording Academy celebrates the passage of the ELVIS Act as a groundbreaking achievement in the effort to protect human creators in the age of AI," said Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. "This milestone represents the power of collaboration, and it was a privilege to work with our partners in the Human Artistry Campaign, Governor Lee, and the Tennessee state legislature to move the ELVIS Act forward. Today is just the beginning — as AI continues to develop, the Recording Academy and our members will continue to support meaningful legislation across the country that uplifts music people and human creativity."

Looking ahead, the ELVIS Act sets a precedent for future legislation at both the state and federal level. As the Recording Academy remains committed to supporting and protecting human creativity, the ELVIS Act serves as a beacon of hope for music creators everywhere, ensuring a future where artistic expression thrives free from exploitation.

How The Recording Academy Is Redoubling Its Efforts To Protect Creators From AI Risks

Jeff Becker, Senator Mary Edly-Allen and Dani Deahl
Jeff Becker, Senator Mary Edly-Allen and Dani Deahl

Photo courtesy of the Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus

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How The Recording Academy Is Redoubling Its Efforts To Protect Creators From AI Risks

A piece of legislation in Illinois addresses a pressing concern for musicians in Illinois – the rise of digital replicas that impersonate their unique voices and likenesses without consent.

Advocacy/Mar 20, 2024 - 01:48 pm

The Recording Academy continues to work across the country to protect creators from being exploited or manipulated by artificial intelligence (AI).

Last week, attention was focused on the Illinois General Assembly, where hearings in both the House and Senate dove into HB 4875/SB 3325, critical legislation protecting the right of musicians and artists to control their image, likeness, and voice.  The legislation, which has been championed by the Recording Academy since its inception, is sponsored by Rep. Gong-Gershowitz and Senator Edly-Allen and seeks to address the challenges posed by AI for creatives.

Among the witnesses who testified at the two hearings were Recording Academy Chicago Chapter Board Members Jeff Becker and Dani Deahl. Becker is an attorney and Chair of the Entertainment and Media Law Practice Group at Swanson, Martin & Bell and Deahl is a prominent artist, DJ, and producer based in Chicago.

HB 4875/SB 3325 represents a crucial step towards modernizing Illinois's Right of Publicity Act for the AI era. By granting additional enforcement rights and remedies, the bill aims to shield musicians from exploitation by generative AI systems. While existing copyright laws offer some protection, the amendments directly address gaps in safeguarding an artist's name, image, likeness, and voice.

During his testimony, Becker emphasized the urgency of updating existing laws to accommodate the rapid advancements in technology. He expressed, "As technology has evolved, our law must adapt to keep up. Specifically, artificial intelligence has provided new ways for people to have their image, likeness, and voice exploited in a manner that our current law didn't contemplate."

Deahl echoed these sentiments, emphasizing the importance of safeguards to prevent the abuse of AI technology. "As we embrace AI's potential, we must also be prepared for the risks it presents that are already here. The clearest example of these risks is the ability of AI to steal people's images and voices. I myself have had the unsettling experience of hearing my voice replicated by AI, delivering messages I never endorsed. This violation of identity is a profound invasion of personal autonomy."

The legislation addresses a pressing concern for musicians in Illinois – the rise of digital replicas that impersonate their unique voices and likenesses without consent. This phenomenon poses a significant threat to artistic integrity and individual rights.

"Nothing is more fundamental to each of us than our identities, and everyone should have the right to decide what words come out of their mouths and how their likeness is used," Deahl remarked.  

During questioning in the House hearing for HB 4875, Becker clarified the legislation stating, "The violation is utilizing technology to imitate somebody else. If you're trying to sound like somebody else and make money selling music sounding like that other person, that's the violation." 

The bills received overwhelming support in both committees and will next move to the House floor for a vote by the full Illinois House of Representatives.

Illinois boasts a rich and diverse music community, contributing significantly to the state's cultural and economic landscape. With nearly 65,000 jobs supported by the industry and a GDP contribution exceeding $4 billion annually, the stakes for protecting artists' rights are high. From iconic venues to world-renowned festivals like Lollapalooza, Illinois has nurtured legendary talents and continues to be a hub of musical innovation.

Join the Recording Academy in supporting the passage of HB 4875/SB 3325, a critical piece of legislation to safeguard the integrity and rights of Illinois musicians. Send a message to Illinois lawmakers through our action center. Your support has the opportunity to ensure artists remain in control over their identities and creative output in the age of AI.

Advocacy In Annapolis: How The Recording Academy Fought For Freedom Of Expression In The Great State Of Maryland