Photo: Leigh Vogel/WireImage.com
Neil Portnow and Sen. Chuck Grassley
Music Modernization Act Passes Unanimously In Senate Judiciary Committee
The MMA scores another big win as it passes unanimously in the Senate Judiciary Committee
Standing on history's doorstep, the Music Modernization Act promises to finally bring our music licensing system out of the Stone Age and into a new era of mutually beneficial policy reform. On June 28, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the bill unanimously, drawing the landmark bill one step closer to becoming a reality.
"Great music comes from great harmonies. As the organization representing all creators, we are gratified to see the industry and Congress work in harmony to pass the Music Modernization Act through the Senate Judiciary Committee," said Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow. "Following years of advocacy by music creators, we look forward to that momentum continuing as the Music Modernization Act heads to the Senate floor. We thank the Committee for its swift movement of the bill. Through collaboration we can truly make a difference for the hundreds of thousands of working music creators across the country."
Ahead of the scheduled markup and vote, a manager's amendment was released this week that reflects consensus agreements that benefit music creators by increasing transparency, awareness and accountability. The bipartisan amendment, introduced by Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) with the support of Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), solidifies the agreement on both sides of the aisle over the dire need to update music licensing and close loopholes that prevent music creators from receiving proper compensation for their work.
Earlier this month, Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim added his voice to the chorus of support for the MMA, taking the stage at the National Music Publishers Association annual meeting to back the bill. Delrahim is just one of the latest to join the mounting support swell for the MMA ahead of the Senate Judiciary Committee vote.
Although the MMA has already passed the House of Representatives by a unanimous 415–0 vote, not everyone is on board with this mutually beneficial piece of legislation reform. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced the Accessibility for Curators, Creators, Educators, Scholars, and Society (ACCESS) to Recordings Act, a misleading, alternate bill that threatens to distract from the MMA's progress . The arguments for ACCESS and against the MMA are flimsy at best, and the bill has done little thus far to slow the momentum of meaningful legislation reform.
Now, with Senate Judiciary Committee weighing in with unanimous support, the MMA's journey ahead moves toward a full Senate vote. The need for meaningful music legislation policy reform has never been greater, and as stakeholders from across the creative and internet industries rally behind the MMA with more steam than ever before, the Senate now holds the key to unlocking a better system for all.
Photo: Getty Images/Bob Riha, Jr. via Getty Images
How Dianne Feinstein Supported The Music Community Worldwide
The late senator from California fought for music people throughout her tenure in Congress.
Between 1978 and 1988, Dianne Feinstein served as the first female mayor of San Francisco — and her star would only rise from there.
Feinstein served a groundbreaking tenure in the Senate as the first woman elected to her position from California, where she remained an influential voice between 1992 and her death in 2023, at age 90.
Upon her death on Sept. 29, The New York Times rightly called Feinstein "the grande dame of California Democrats." And one component of her voluminous legacy is her fight for music people's rights worldwide.
In memory of Feinstein, here's a brief breakdown of such moments in her Senatorial career.
She Was Honored At GRAMMYs on the Hill
In 2006, the Recording Academy recognized Senator Feinstein as a recipient of its GRAMMYs on the Hill Award alongside three-time GRAMMY winner Kelly Clarkson. The Senator was honored due to her "work to improve the environment for music makers and artists."
She Supported The Music Modernization Act And ART Act
These are two key pieces of music legislation that became law thanks to Senator Feinstein's tireless support.
Signed into law in 2018, the Music Modernization Act was the biggest update to music law in decades modernizing the copyright law to make music licensing more fair for all music creators.
The Artist's Rights and Theft Prevention Act of 2005, or ART Act, was part of the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005 and halted copyright infringement of musical works and sound recordings, among other forms of intellectual property.
She Championed Performing Rights
Senator Feinstein was an original sponsor to the Performance Rights Act of 2009. This bill was crafted to ensure artists are fairly paid for their work by establishing a performance right for sound recordings on terrestrial (AM/FM) radio. Her leadership on this issue helped ignite what has become over a decade-long effort to ensure artists are compensated for their work.. As the fight for performing rights continues, Senator Feinstein was a supporter and leader on every iteration of the bill since 2009. Most recently, she was an original sponsor of the American Music Fairness Act, which was re-introduced by Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Alex Padilla (D-CA) on Feb. 2, 2023.
She Co-Sponsored The HITS Act
The Help Independent Tracks Succeed Act, or HITS Act — which the Recording Academy helped craft — would modify current U.S. tax law to allow independent artists to deduct 100% of their production costs on new recordings upfront.
By working with Tennessee lawmakers on the HITS Act and co-sponsoring the Senate version of the bill, Feinstein, once again, proved herself to be an ally of the music community.
"Because most large, public gatherings have been prohibited since the pandemic began, musicians and music producers have been among the hardest hit by the coronavirus," Feinstein said in a statement announcing the legislation. "Our bill would provide relief by allowing independent musicians, technicians and producers to deduct their production expenses in the same year they occur, rather than forcing them to spread those deductions out over several years.
"This is in line with how expenses are treated for film, television and theater productions," Feinstein continued, "and it makes sense to create parity for music productions."
The Recording Academy mourns the loss of Feinstein, and celebrates her invaluable contributions to music legislation as the Senator from California.
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.