Memphis Chapter Gov. Boo Mitchell Testifies As Recording Academy Supporter At House Judiciary Music Hearing


Memphis Chapter Gov. Boo Mitchell Testifies As Recording Academy Supporter At House Judiciary Music Hearing

"I can't think of another industry in America where you are allowed to take someone else's property," Mitchell declared during the virtual meeting — and Gloria Estefan and Dave Pomeroy echoed his sentiment

Advocacy/Feb 5, 2022 - 02:25 am

Speaking during a virtual House Judiciary hearing on Feb. 2, Gloria Estefan extolled the transformative power of music.

"Each of the songs that are precious and meaningful to you was a labor of love for the songwriters, the artists, the musicians and producers that brought it to life," she said. "They poured their own hearts and souls into its creation."

The problem, though? "But when their music is played on the radio," Estefan continued, "Artists don't get paid, only the songwriters."

In the tableau of digital squares, the three-time GRAMMY winner and 12-time nominee wasn't alone in this assessment. Supporting her argument were Nashville musician Dave Pomeroy and Memphis Chapter Governor Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell — who testified with support from the Recording Academy’s Advocacy Team, and spoke from his experience as a producer, engineer, musician, and the co-owner of historic Royal Studios in Memphis, Tennessee.

"It's about the backbone — the people that make the music. I don't get promotion for 'Uptown Funk,'" Mitchell said in a follow-up Q&A, referring to the GRAMMY-winning hit Mark Ronson song — featuring Bruno Mars — that he co-produced. "It's not just about the featured artists, but the blue-collar people that go in to help make these great records."

Harvey Mason jr., the CEO of the Recording Academy, also chimed in with his own statement.

"Today's House Judiciary Committee hearing on the American Music Fairness Act gives lawmakers an opportunity to hear directly from music creators on the antiquated compensation practices by radio stations for their performances," he said.

"The work of artists like Boo Mitchell, Gloria Estefan and Dave Pomeroy should not be devalued to increase the bottom line of big radio conglomerates," Mason continued. "It's time for terrestrial radio to compensate creators fairly. Our hope is that listening to these musicians today will spur Congress toward action."

Read on for Mitchell's entire testimony exhorting for the passage of the American Music Fairness Act (AMFA), click here to access the recorded hearing, and click here to take action to support the AMFA.

Dear Chairman Nadler, Ranking Member Jordan, and members of the committee,

My name is Lawrence "Boo" Mitchell. I am a GRAMMY Award-winning Recording Engineer, Producer, Composer, Musician, and the co-owner of Royal Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. I am also a member of the Board of Governors of the Memphis Chapter of the Recording Academy. Best known for the GRAMMY Awards, the Recording Academy represents thousands of songwriters, performers, musicians, producers, and engineers across the country. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to testify today.

In 2014, I was visited here at Royal Studios by songwriters and producers Mark Ronson and Jeff Bhasker. After visiting the studio, Mark told me that he wanted to record his album here, including a track with Bruno Mars. Over the next several weeks, Mark, Bruno, Jeff, myself, and some of the finest musical talents from Memphis and around the country teamed up to record the song "Uptown Funk." "Uptown Funk" was released in November of 2014, and immediately charted on Billboard. Eventually, it became the number one song of the year. And then it became the number one song of the decade. "Uptown Funk" is currently fourth on Billboard's All-Time Hot 100 charts. In 2016, it won the GRAMMY Award for Record of the Year, the first record made in Memphis to win this honor.

"Uptown Funk" was also a huge hit on the radio. In 2015, "Uptown Funk" finished the year as the number one song on the mainstream Top 40 radio chart. To this day, it is one of the twenty most played songs of all time on mainstream top 40 radio in America.

But despite this historic airplay on the radio, no one involved in the recording of "Uptown Funk" has ever been paid by the radio broadcasters who used and profited from their work.

Because of a loophole in the copyright law, radio broadcasters are allowed to play sound recordings without asking for permission from the artists who created it and without paying them any compensation. They can play records on the air for free, and they use our music to sell billions of dollars worth of advertising. I can't think of another industry in America where you are allowed to take someone else's property and use it without permission or compensation.

But this story gets crazier. "Uptown Funk" wasn't just a big radio hit in the United States, it was a hit around the world. The track reached number one in Australia, Canada, Israel, New Zealand, and the U.K. In every single one of those countries, the broadcasters actually did pay royalties for playing the record. But I still didn't get paid.

You see, almost every other country in the world recognizes a public performance right for sound recordings on the radio, and they require broadcasters to pay royalties to artists and rights holders. But because we don't recognize a performance right here in the United States, foreign countries won't pay American artists the royalties we are due until the United States fixes the law and reciprocates. So, Mark Ronson, who was born in London and still lives there, can collect royalties from all the airplay that "Uptown Funk" has received around the world. But none of the American artists who collaborated with him can. Every year, American artists are losing hundreds of millions of dollars in international royalties that are owed to them.

More than two dozen individuals are credited on the recording of "Uptown Funk." While performance royalties from radio may not make a huge difference in the life of a super star like Bruno Mars, it would make all the difference in the world to me and to the other musicians, vocalists, and studio professionals that created this iconic track.

Fortunately, there is a reasonable, common-sense solution to fix this injustice. The American Music Fairness Act is a bipartisan bill introduced by Representatives Ted Deutch and Darrell Issa. This bill would establish a performance right for sound recordings played on AM/FM radio stations. Under the bill, artists, performers, vocalists, producers, and other music makers involved in the creation of a sound recording would receive fair market compensation for their music played on radio stations across the U.S., just like they currently receive on digital radio services.

Importantly, the bill also safeguards the royalties received by songwriters for airplay on the radio, and it also contains key protections for small broadcasters to ensure that local and community radio stations can continue to thrive.

"Uptown Funk" is just one illustration of how this injustice has hurt recording artists throughout history. This year happens to be the fiftieth anniversary of Al Green's legendary album Let's Stay Together, which was recorded at Royal Studios and produced, recorded, and mixed by my dad, Willie Mitchell. The title track was a number one hit and has been added to the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress, but my dad, who passed away in 2010, never received a penny from radio for his work.

Fast-forward to today and we are still making hits in Memphis that you can hear on the radio. It was just about one year ago that I received another phone call, this time from Bruno Mars. He was working on a new project and wanted to add some of those grimy Memphis horns. Those horns can be heard on the new album Bruno recorded with Anderson .Paak under the name Silk Sonic. Their current single "Smokin Out The Window" is still on the charts and still on the radio, but the horn players I recorded with -- Kameron Whalum, Marc Franklin, Kirk Smothers, and Lannie McMillan – haven't received any compensation from broadcasters.

Some things have not changed from the time my dad opened Royal Studios to today. We still produce and record great music. And AM/FM radio stations still pay no royalties to performers. Time is running out to fix this injustice for the artists of my dad's generation, like the Rev. Al Green and the Rev. Charles Hodges. These artists aren't looking for free promotion to sell records or go on tour, they just want the compensation that they deserve but have long been denied. And a new generation is struggling to see if they can even make it in the music business.

The ongoing pandemic continues to disrupt touring and the live music sector, which makes it all the more important that artists are able to fully realize the value of their recorded music in order to make a living. The lost royalties from radio could make the difference in whether a musician can stay focused on their career or has to take a second or third job to get by. 

Royal Studios is one of the oldest recording studios in the world, but we've struggled during these uncertain times as well. If we had been able to collect my dad's royalties from radio over the past fifty years, my small business and my family would be in better shape today.

Those who create music answer to a unique calling. It is not just a profession you choose, it's one that also chooses you. But today I'm calling on Congress to help us keep the music playing by ensuring that American Music Creators are fully compensated the way other Music Creators around the world are, whenever their work is used or exploited.

Please pass the American Music Fairness Act. Thank you.

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4 Ways Pharrell Williams Has Made An Impact: Supporting The Music Industry, Amplifying Social Issues & More
Pharrell Williams speaks at the TV One Urban One Honors in December 2022.

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.

Recording Academy/Apr 20, 2023 - 04:40 pm

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

Everything You Need To Know About The Recording Academy's 2022 Chapter Board Elections


Everything You Need To Know About The Recording Academy's 2022 Chapter Board Elections

The Recording Academy's 2022 Chapter Board Elections, open March 29 - April 4, are a pivotal opportunity to serve our local Chapter communities and to help launch the next generation of Recording Academy leaders. Here's everything you need to know.

Recording Academy/Mar 24, 2022 - 09:46 pm

As we prepare to celebrate music's best and brightest at the 2022 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 64th GRAMMY Awards, we must also recognize those who are dedicated to serving our music community year-round.

The active participation of Recording Academy members makes a difference, whether it's voting in the GRAMMY Awards process, recommending peers for membership, or registering for the District Advocate advocacy movement.

The upcoming Chapter Board Elections are a pivotal opportunity to serve our local Chapter communities and to help launch the next generation of Recording Academy leaders. The results of this election will impact the future of the Academy from the local to the national level.

Here's everything you need to know about the Recording Academy's 2022 Chapter Board Elections before voting opens next week.

When are Chapter Board Elections?

The Chapter Board Elections are typically held in early April of each year. The 2022 Elections are open Tuesday, March 29, at 8 a.m. local time – Monday, April 4, at 11:59 p.m. local time.

What are Chapter Boards?

The Recording Academy's membership is organized into 12 Chapters nationwide. Each Chapter has a local Board of Governors that advises and supports the National Board of Trustees and collaborates with the Chapter President and Academy staff on local programming and Academy initiatives.

Who is eligible to vote in Chapter Board Elections?

Each Chapter's Voting and Professional membership vote in their respective Chapter Board Elections to elect their Chapter's Governors.

Who serves on Chapter Boards?

A Chapter Board is composed of Recording Academy members who are elected to the positions of Trustee; Chapter Officers, which include a President, Vice President, and Secretary; and Governors.

Why is voting in Chapter Board Elections important?

Voting is a right and a responsibility as a member.

While we love hearing creators' voices on stage and on recordings, it's our responsibility to listen to their concerns, ideas and recommendations in order to keep our Academy and our industry moving forward.

Your vote makes a difference.

Voting in this election is an opportunity to help drive the Recording Academy and our music communities forward by electing the best and brightest members to your Chapter's leadership.

Your vote helps ensure a diverse, inclusive and representative Board.

Recording Academy members elected to their Chapter Boards ensure the policies and procedures put in place by the Academy reflect the needs and aspirations of our vastly diverse music community.

Your vote is your voice.

As a member of the Recording Academy, your vote carries weight and is tremendously valued.

How can I vote in the Chapter Board Elections?

When the elections open on Tuesday, March 29, Voting and Professional members will receive an email from the Recording Academy with a direct link to their online ballot. This login will be different from each member's Recording Academy login.

Once you click on your ballot link, review the candidates' bios. Vote for the individuals who you believe will best represent your local music community.

Be sure to submit your Chapter Board Elections ballot before voting closes on Monday, April 4. If you have any questions or issues with your ballot, please reach out to

For more information about Recording Academy Governance or to view the current list of Elected Leaders, visit

Recording Academy Bolsters Membership With 2,710 Music Creators And Professionals Invited

The Recording Academy Announces 3rd Annual "Behind The Record" Initiative To Continue To #GiveCredit To Creators In Music


The Recording Academy Announces 3rd Annual "Behind The Record" Initiative To Continue To #GiveCredit To Creators In Music

This year, the Recording Academy's "Behind The Record" initiative, a global social media activation aimed at spotlighting the many creators in music, introduces Behind The Record Advocacy, a new virtual program to discus creators' needs with Congress

Recording Academy/Oct 12, 2021 - 05:00 pm

The Recording Academy has announced that it will continue giving credit where credit is due with its 3rd annual "Behind The Record" initiative, a global social media activation aimed at spotlighting the many producers, engineers, songwriters, composers, mixers, instrumentalists, and other creators who contribute to the music recording process. Taking place Friday, Oct. 15, the industry-wide conversation encourages artists across all music genres to celebrate their collaborators' incredible behind-the-scenes work on the tracks, records and albums loved by music fans around the world. This year's campaign features a short film, narrated by Recording Academy Board of Trustees Secretary/Treasurer Om'Mas Keith, illustrating that behind every hit song is an intricate dance of creativity that builds and builds to the final product.

A day before the social media activation's launch, on Thursday, Oct. 14, the Recording Academy will introduce Behind The Record Advocacy, a new virtual advocacy program to inform lawmakers about issues affecting the creators behind their favorite records. Building off the success of the Recording Academy's "Behind The Record" initiative, Academy members will meet virtually with members of Congress nationwide to discuss legislation that would have a direct impact on America's recording artists, songwriters and studio professionals, such as the HITS Act and the American Music Fairness Act. With nearly 200 meetings with congressional offices anticipated for Behind The Record Advocacy, members will focus on ensuring that the individuals behind the record are able to earn fair compensation for their work.

"It takes a village to create a recording, and as an organization that serves to support all music creators, we invite our peers to join us in spotlighting the many music professionals behind our favorite songs," Harvey Mason jr., CEO of the Recording Academy, said. "While we celebrate the music professionals behind the scenes, we also recognize the importance of fighting for fair treatment of creators. We're proud of the evolution of 'Behind The Record' to include an advocacy element this year as we continue our ongoing work to ensure all music creators flourish."

"Behind The Record" is supported by the Recording Academy's Advocacy Department, Producers & Engineers Wing and Songwriters & Composers Wing. Supporting all music creators—including the artists behind our favorite records—is an urgent initiative for the Recording Academy year-round. Within the past year alone, the Recording Academy established the Songwriters & Composers Wing to better represent the diverse community of music creators who provide the world with the gift of song. The Academy also reintroduced the HITS Act in the House and Senate, which would allow artists and record producers to deduct 100 percent of sound recording production expenses in the year they are incurred, and continued efforts to support women producers and engineers through its Women In The Mix initiative.

To help the Recording Academy further support creators working behind the scenes, artists can participate in "Behind The Record" by:

  • Emailing to request an access code to the Credit Cover Generator Portal.
  • Posting your Credit Cover across social media channels and tagging those who worked on your project. Use hashtags #BehindTheRecord #GiveCredit #WeAreMusic.
  • Artists can create Credit Covers for a single track or album, and covers will live in a gallery on the "Behind The Record" website for music fans to view and discover the roles of creatives behind some of their favorite records.

For the third year, Jaxsta, the world's largest public-facing dedicated database of official music credits, provided credits for Warner Music, Sony Music, Universal Music Group, and Merlin releases.

For more information, please visit the "Behind The Record" website. Follow and join the global conversation on social media using the hashtags #BehindTheRecord, #GiveCredit and #WeAreMusic.

Learn More About The Recording Academy's "Behind The Record" Initiative


Roll Call Commentary: "Turning Up The Volume On Music Issues"

Recording Academy/Jun 21, 2017 - 07:14 pm

When you think of the great music cities of America, what comes to mind? Los Angeles? Nashville? New York City? Brookside, Rhode Island?

If the last one was a surprise, it shouldn’t be. Nor should hearing about the great music being made in Shullsburg, Wisconsin; Park City, Utah; or Farmington Hills, Michigan. Because in all of those towns, people are making great music — and they’re expecting their elected leaders to protect their intellectual property. ...

You can read the rest of Daryl P. Friedman's commentary in Roll Call, "Turning Up The Volume on Music Issues," about the creators' rights issues championed by Academy members during GRAMMYs in My District here.