Graphic courtesy of the Recording Academy
2023 GRAMMYs On The Hill Awards Honorees Announced: Pharrell Williams, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer & Sen. Bill Cassidy
The 21st GRAMMYs On The Hill Awards, Washington's premier celebration of music and advocacy, will bring together congressional leaders, GRAMMY winners and nominees, and the music community to recognize those who have led the fight for creators' rights.
When it comes to standing up for all music people, GRAMMYs On The Hill has long been a magnificent representation of how they put words into action. Now, they've announced its 2023 honorees.
On Apr. 26, the Recording Academy will host its annual GRAMMYs on the Hill Awards, Washington's premier annual celebration of music and advocacy, bringing together congressional leaders and music makers to recognize those who have led the fight for creators' rights.
Sponsored by City National Bank and benefitting the GRAMMY Museum, this year's awards will honor 13-time GRAMMY winner Pharrell Williams, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) for their contributions to support music creators. Special guests and attendees will be announced in the coming weeks.
"GRAMMYs on the Hill is a celebration like no other, spotlighting music's unifying power as we bring together our nation's leaders with some of the most renowned artists in the world," said Harvey Mason jr., CEO of the Recording Academy. "It's a privilege to honor Pharrell alongside Senate Majority Leader Schumer and Senator Cassidy, all of whom have fought tirelessly for pro-music policy that protects the creatives that make up our community."
"I'm very grateful to be honored at this year's GRAMMYs on the Hill among some incredible other honorees who have done tremendous advocacy work for others," says Williams. "It's important that we show up for each other and support one another to ensure that we can keep creating."
"It's an honor to be recognized at this year's GRAMMYs on the Hill for Congress's work to support the recording and performance industry during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic," said U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. "I was proud to lead the fight in Congress alongside musicians, venue owners, operators, and employees to pass the Save Our Stages Act, bringing critical relief to thousands of workers in the music industry."
"Music carried the spirits of the students at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music through to freedom. No matter where you are in the world — Kabul or New Orleans — music communicates resilience, passion, and culture," said Dr. Cassidy.
Williams has demonstrated an unparalleled commitment to protecting creators' rights and to philanthropy. From his vision in founding organizations such as Black Ambition and YELLOW, to his work and passion for social justice working with former Virginia Governor Northam to make Juneteenth a paid state holiday, he has proved himself a trailblazer not just in music but in service, and a champion for the music community.
Throughout his illustrious career, he has been honored with 13 GRAMMYs, including 2004, 2014 and 2019 Producer Of The Year, and ASCAP's Golden Note Award in 2012. He has received two Academy Award nominations for his original song "Happy" (Despicable Me 2) and for Best Picture-nominated Hidden Figures (2016) as co-producer. Williams also received a Golden Globe nomination for co-scoring the film.
In 2019, he received an Emmy nomination for his original song "Letter to My Godfather," for Netflix's The Black Godfather about legendary music executive Clarence Avant. In 2020, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame for his work as The Neptunes.
On Apr. 28, Williams' multi-day music festival SOMETHING IN THE WATER returns to his hometown of Virginia Beach and will continue its mission spotlighting the community.
Schumer and Cassidy are the congressional honorees being recognized for their stalwart support of creators. Together, they have championed key policies in support of music people, including co-sponsoring the Save Our Stages Act, which was included in the bipartisan COVID relief package passed in December 2020.
As Senate Majority Leader, Schumer ensured essential pandemic relief was available to assist gig workers and music small businesses. Schumer also sponsored the resolution designating Aug. 11, 2021 as "Hip Hop Celebration Day" and the month of November 2021 as "Hip Hop History Month," while Cassidy served as an original co-sponsor of the measure, which passed unanimously in the Senate.
In 2018, Schumer and Cassidy were both co-sponsors of the historic Music Modernization Act. Cassidy, along with Schumer, was also critical in efforts to help 272 young musicians, faculty and staff from the Afghanistan National Institute of Music escape Taliban-controlled Afghanistan and safely reach Qatar in 2021.
Today, many of the institute's activities have been re-established in Portugal, such as the Zohra Orchestra, Afghanistan's first all-female orchestra.
The awards dinner and presentation will take place at the Hamilton Live in Washington, D.C., with live performances from the musical honorees and additional special guests.
The following day, Apr. 27, the Recording Academy will host the annual GRAMMYs on the Hill Advocacy Day, which brings current and past GRAMMY winners and nominees, along with other esteemed industry leaders, to meet with lawmakers to discuss issues facing today's music creators.
The day is recognized as Capitol Hill's largest and most prestigious legislative event for music. This year, music creators will meet with Members of Congress to advance several key issues that the Academy and its members continue to advocate for, including:
The HITS Act, which would allow an artist or songwriter to fully expense the cost of new studio recordings on their taxes, up to $150,000.
The Restoring Artistic Protection Act, which would limit the use of lyrics and creative expression as evidence in court — a common practice that disproportionately affects the rap community.
Reform of the live event ticketing marketplace to better protect artists and fans.
The American Music Fairness Act, which establishes a performance right for artists on AM/FM radio.
Over the past 21 years, GRAMMYs on the Hill has hosted award-winning artists and applauded congressional leaders alike, including four-time GRAMMY winner Yolanda Adams, then-Vice President Joe Biden, two-time GRAMMY winner Garth Brooks, former United States Secretary of State and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), four-time GRAMMY winner Missy Elliott, former Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), 28-time GRAMMY winner Quincy Jones, seven-time GRAMMY winner John Mayer, current Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and more.
The annual advocacy event has also led to several major legislative wins for the music industry, most notably the Music Modernization Act.
Keep watching this space for more thrilling news about GRAMMYs On The Hill — and the Recording Academy's ongoing fight for all music people.
Photo: Rob Kim/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
How District Advocate Day 2023 Uplifted Music People And Expanded With Its First Ever GRAMMY Advocacy Conference
The first-ever GRAMMY Advocacy Conference — just in time for District Advocate Day 2023 — was an effective and inspiring digest of the most pressing issues facing the music community.
Year round, the Recording Academy works tirelessly to advocate for all music people — but one day is especially important. That's District Advocate Day, whose 2023 iteration rolled around on Oct. 5. Held annually in the fall, this is the largest grassroots advocacy movement for music and its makers.
As with every year, Recording Academy members from across the country visited the local district offices of their elected representatives in Congress to discuss issues affecting the livelihoods of songwriters, performers, and studio professionals.
The key issues for District Advocate Day 2023 were AI (artificial intelligence), protecting free expression, protecting the live music experience for artists and fans, incentivizing new music via tax fairness, and providing a solution for artists' rights on radio.
These were front of mind across nearly 100 meetings throughout the U.S. — from Long Beach, California to Coral Springs, Florida; from Omaha to San Antonio; from Philadelphia to Tupelo. And that just scratches the surface of how the Academy sprung into action nationwide for all music people.
At the Recording Academy's New York Chapter Office in the Murray Hill neighborhood of Manhattan, District Advocate Day kicked off much as it did in 2022. Congressman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, swung by said office to meet up with the New York Chapter.
In the boardroom, Academy members — in a mix of formal and casual getup — got down to brass tacks, and made heartfelt expressions before Nadler.
The discussion of free expression was framed by the Academy-endorsed Restoring Artistic Protection (RAP) Act. As for ticketing, bots were evoked as a major concern.
And regarding AI, guarding name, image, likeness, and intellectual property was of paramount concern. Nadler was receptive to these concerns from the New York Chapter, and offered co-signage to Academy-sponsored bills.
After an all-smiles group photo session in front of the New York Chapter Office — which sported some nifty new Academy-logoed flags — a group reconvened in the boardroom to watch the first-ever GRAMMY Advocacy Conference. This was just one of many such gatherings across the country. As uncertainty in Washington prevented many congressional offices from scheduling meetings, the virtual conference provided another opportunity for Academy members to connect with each other and engage with the issues no matter where they live.
Across the following hour, viewers heard directly from policymakers, industry stakeholders and fellow Academy members about the organization's crucial work in Washington.
The video included a conversation about AI between Todd Dupler, the Chief Advocacy & Public Policy Officer at the Recording Academy, and Mitch Glazier, the CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America.
After a message from U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) about the need to overhaul the current ticketing system, Shay M. Lawson, Governor of the Atlanta Chapter of the Recording Academy, introduced U.S. Representative Sydney Kamlager-Dove (Calif.-37) and Torae, the President of the New York Chapter of the Recording Academy.
The three had a frank discussion about the need to safeguard free expression through the Restoring Artistic Protection Act, and Rep. Kamlager-Dove's historic resolution commemorating the 50th anniversary of hip-hop.
On screen, what followed was a conversation between Dupler and Nicole Elkon, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of State. This interchange had to do with music diplomacy, a crucial tool in the department's arsenal, and came fresh off the State Department's launch of the Global Music Diplomacy Initiative that the Recording Academy played an instrumental role in developing.
The final major portion of GRAMMY Advocacy Conference 2023 reflected the Academy's hardworking Songwriters & Composers Wing. The Wing's very own Sr. Managing Director, Susan Stewart, led a conversation with singer-songwriter Alex Hall, and Evan Bogart, the Chair of the S&C Wing.
After a pragmatic and necessary talk about the importance of fair compensation in the streaming age — and navigating the labyrinth of an increasingly complex music landscape — it was clear to all involved that we do this because we love the music, first and foremost. And with that, members of the New York Chapter filed out into the autumn air, ready to put that shared love into action.
Photos: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
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.
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.
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."
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.
Photo: LEON BENNETT/GETTY IMAGES FOR THE RECORDING ACADEMY
The Copyright Royalty Board Has Published Their Determination On Phonorecords III — Here’s What That Means For Songwriters
This determination means songwriters will start to receive back pay on royalties they were owed from 2018-2022.
After a yearslong process, the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) has officially published their determination on Phonorecords III — meaning songwriters will start to receive back pay on royalties they were owed from 2018-2022.
As the Recording Academy covered earlier this year, the CRB announced a confirmation of the mechanical royalty rate increase from 10.5% to 15.1% for the Phonorecords III period (that covers 2018-2022). Despite that ruling occurring earlier this year, the process was not officially complete until the determination was published this month.
This is a monumental win for songwriters and composers, who will soon begin to receive the additional owed royalties. To help break down some common questions, the Recording Academy put together a brief FAQ on what this means for songwriters:
How much will songwriters receive?
While the final calculation is not publicly known, some reports estimate that digital streaming services will owe as much as $200 million to songwriters and publishers from Phonorecords III.
When will songwriters begin to receive the backpay?
Songwriters can expect to begin to receive their share of the owed royalties no later than February 2024 — streaming services have six months from August 10 to make arrangements and payments for the mechanical royalty rates they owe songwriters from 2018 to 2022.
How will songwriters collect the backpay?
The Mechanical Licensing Collective is expected to pay any owed royalties that were incurred in 2021 or 2022, which is when it was operational following the passage of the Music Modernization Act.
For royalties owed from 2018 to 2020, the digital platforms will be responsible for making proper payments and may contract with a third-party vendor for processing.
Will there be any oversight to this process?
The U.S. Copyright Office and Congress are monitoring this important process. In addition, stakeholders including the Recording Academy and its Songwriters & Composers Wing will work to ensure that payments are paid properly and timely.
The Recording Academy has been vocal in advocating for songwriters and composers throughout this entire process and has continually pushed for these artists to receive a fairer royalty rate for their works.
Now that the determination has been publicly released, payments to songwriters and composers must be done in an efficient and accurate manner.
The Academy intends to continue following the process and advocating for these artists to receive the payments they have earned.
Image courtesy of the Recording Academy
District Advocate Day Is Back On Oct. 5: How The Annual Advocacy Day Will Benefit Music People Worldwide
Year over year, District Advocate Day has directly led to positive change for the music community. Here’s how to get involved on Oct. 5.
The Recording Academy's District Advocate Day is returning on Thursday, October 5th.
District Advocate Day, the largest grassroots advocacy movement for music and its makers, gives Recording Academy members an opportunity to visit the local district offices of their elected members of Congress and discuss the pressing issues facing the music community.
Last year, almost 2,000 Recording Academy members participated in District Advocate Day — making it one of the largest District Advocate Days to date. Over the course of the activation, Academy members reached 75 percent of Congress by meeting with nearly 200 congressional offices across 45 states.
Year over year, District Advocate Day has directly led to positive change for the music community. In 2022, Recording Academy members advocated for the passage of the PEACE Through Music Diplomacy Act, a bill designed to use music and music-related global exchange programs as a tool to build cross-cultural understanding and advance peace abroad. Just two months later, Congress passed the PEACE Through Music Diplomacy Act as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2023.
In 2020, Recording Academy members successfully urged Congress to provide billions in COVID relief for music makers and music small businesses when they needed it the most. And in 2019, the House of Representatives passed the CASE (Copyright Alternative in Small Claims Enforcement) Act just weeks after we advocated for it during District Advocate.
This bill, which passed the House of Representatives 410-6 before getting signed into law, created a small claims court for copyright cases — a huge win for artists who otherwise did not have the means to protect their work from infringement or theft.
This October, Recording Academy members will continue these efforts as they advocate for key issues facing the music community such as artificial intelligence and decriminalizing artistic expression.
Registration is open now until September 8th for all active members of the Recording Academy including Voting, Professional, and Student members. Members interested in and registering, or to learn more, can click here.
Even if you are not a member of the Recording Academy, you can still fight for creator’s rights by contacting lawmakers in support of music makers. We also encourage you to continue checking out our Advocacy page for additional ways to stay involved!