Smokey Robinson, Justin Roberts Testify At MMA Senate Judiciary Hearing

Justin Roberts

Photo: Photo: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images


Smokey Robinson, Justin Roberts Testify At MMA Senate Judiciary Hearing

Recording Academy members made their case for the Music Modernization Act in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 15

Advocacy/May 17, 2018 - 12:58 am

On May 15 members of the Recording Academy joined executives from across the music industry to testify on Capitol Hill in support of music copyright reform. Their target audience, the Senate Judiciary Committee, heard about how current copyright law has hampered the music community and urged the committee to pass S. 2823, the Senate version of the Music Modernization Act.

The companion bill to H.R. 5447, which unanimously passed the House of Representatives less than a month ago, S. 2823 provides the first major reform to music copyright law in decades. On hand to hear how the new bill, which also has unprecedented backing across the music industry, would benefit those responsible for the music we love were 16 bipartisan committee members, including Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) , Ranking Member Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) and the bill's sponsor, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).

Among the witnesses at the hearing were Recording Academy Trustee and GRAMMY-nominated children's music artist Justin Roberts, who testified on behalf of the Academy, and GRAMMY-winning Motown legend Smokey Robinson and GRAMMY-winning country songwriter Josh Kear, both Academy members.

"Many [Recording Academy] members — in fact most of America's music makers — are just like me: middle-class Americans and songwriters who are not household names," Roberts testified. "These middle-class artists use their training and talent to bring music to the world. Perhaps the least recognized among us are the music producers."

Roberts continued to describe the impact producers have had on his musical career, including Liam Davis, the producer who was instrumental in persuading him to pursue music as a professional career. He also acknowledged that while it would be easy for producers to simply ask for passage of the Allocation for Music Producers Act, a producer-focused music bill with wide support, it would be a "fundamental misunderstanding of the heart of a producer" for them to do so.

"As an artist, I can tell you most of us rely on the structure, steady hand and technical talent of a producer," Roberts continued. "The producer works with artists, but also songwriters, engineers, record labels, studio owners, and nearly everyone associated with the creation of a record. The producer takes care of all of us. So, it's no wonder that they want to see the AMP Act passed as part of the broader [Music Modernization Act] so that songwriters and legacy artists receive their fair share."

Robinson talked about how the provisions for recordings made pre-1972 were a crucial piece of the MMA. As the lead singer of the Miracles, hits under his name include classics such as "Shop Around," "I Second That Emotion" and "Tears Of A Clown." Yet Robinson isn't entitled to proper compensation from those hits because of the current copyright laws.

"Those happen to be some of the biggest records I've ever been associated with and to not be paid because they were prior to 1972 is ludicrous as far as I'm concerned," Robinson testified. "A lot of work went into making those songs, not just from the artists, but from the musicians, the writers, the producers, and people who were involved in making them and they deserve to be compensated."

Robinson also emphasized that current music copyright law impacts not only modern working musicians, but those who came before the current generation, including Dionne Warwick, the Supremes' Mary Wilson and Darlene Love, who were in the audience to support those testifying .

"The records of the '50s and '60s aren't called classics because of their age, they're called classics because of their greatness," Robinson said. "They still resonate today. They define the American sound."

This year has been a landmark for music copyright reform. In January, coinciding with GRAMMY Week, the House Judiciary Committee held a music-focused field hearing in New York, focusing on music copyright issues. Citing how current copyright law affects music creators, witnesses urged the committee to work to update copyright standards. Following the hearing, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) introduced the MMA to the full House of Representatives, which was unanimously passed on April 25.

"The Academy is pleased with the increased interest and dedication Congress has shown toward fixing outdated music copyright laws," said Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow. "Music creators have long felt the impact of these outdated laws. Today's hearing demonstrates that Congress stands with them in recognizing the importance and urgency of creating a licensing framework that reflects our 21st-century marketplace."

Now under consideration in the Senate, the MMA represents a victory for all music creators. Harmonizing the music industry with one comprehensive piece of legislation, it aligns copyright law with the new music ecosystem, a position advocated by the Recording Academy since 2014, when Portnow testified before Congress.

This latest hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee marks another positive step forward for music creators country-wide, and it's clear the bill has some great advocates in the Senate, which we hope will help this bill pass its final hurdles to becoming law.

"The exclusive rights and protections that our copyright laws grant are the foundation upon which America's creators and artists stand and thrive," Grassley said. "It's important that singers, songwriters, musicians, technical engineers, producers, and all the men and women who support the creativity and artistry behind American music be rewarded for their efforts and incentivized to continue producing their invaluable work."

"For too long our licensing laws have disadvantaged content creators and sowed uncertainty," said Hatch. "Our bill will bring our music licensing laws into the 21st century to ensure that songwriters are compensated fairly for their work, and that digital music services are able to operate without constant legal uncertainty."

Contact Your Senators: Tell Them To Support Comprehensive Music Reform

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

The Recording Academy Reveals Leadership Council For Newly Launched Black Music Collective


The Recording Academy Reveals Leadership Council For Newly Launched Black Music Collective

The distinguished leadership committee will work with honorary chairs to elevate Black music creators and professionals

Recording Academy/Oct 22, 2020 - 05:30 pm

The Recording Academy's newly launched Black Music Collective (BMC), a group of prominent Black music creators and professionals who share the common goal of amplifying Black voices within the Academy and the wider music community, has announced a distinguished leadership council. The leadership committee is dedicated to progressing the Recording Academy's mission to achieve equitable representation across its membership and the music industry.

The collective will serve as a space for members to speak openly about new and emerging opportunities in Black music alongside an inspiring group of groundbreaking Black music creators and business leaders. Leadership has already begun creating and identifying programming that will encourage the acceleration of Black membership within the Academy.

Members of the leadership council will join Honorary Chairs Jeffrey HarlestonJimmy JamQuincy JonesDebra LeeJohn Legend and Sylvia Rhone to work hand in hand to elevate the mission of the collective. Recording Academy Trustee Riggs Morales serves as the BMC Chair and Washington, D.C., Chapter Executive Director Jeriel Johnson is the Executive Sponsor. 

The Black Music Collective's Distinguished Leadership Committee includes the following accomplished music professionals:

"Our time is now and I'm so excited to add my voice in whatever way I can to honor those who came before me, those who worked building the foundation in this important work in music," H.E.R. said. "Initiatives like this help give a voice to young and emerging artists who dream of an even bigger future. We're all in this together."

"This is a new era of change for the Recording Academy and we are honored to have these leading artists, executives, producers and engineers who are all at the top of their fields join us for such an important moment in our world, our nation and our industry," Harvey Mason jr., chair and interim president/CEO of the Recording Academy, said. "Black music is part of the fabric of our industry and it is so reassuring to stand with these leaders to create momentum, bring change and amplify Black voices."

"We're energized by our partnership with such an esteemed group of Black music leaders who share our mission to foster and accelerate Black representation, equity and inclusion throughout the music industry," Valeisha Butterfield Jones, chief diversity & inclusion officer of the Recording Academy, said. "We've doubled down on our partnership with these leaders and are committed to the work ahead."

Stay up to date on the BMC's progress here

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: Watch The Recording Academy's Inspiring "Change Music" Summit In Full

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: Watch The Recording Academy's Inspiring "Change Music" Summit In Full




Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: Watch The Recording Academy's Inspiring "Change Music" Summit In Full

Alongside Color Of Change, The Recording Academy hosted the virtual industrywide #ChangeMusic Summit, which welcomed leaders in music and media for panels on shifting culture, amplifying diverse voices, driving systemic change and more

Recording Academy/Oct 2, 2020 - 10:38 pm

On Thursday (Oct. 1), the Recording Academy joined Color Of Change, the nation's largest online racial justice organization, to host a virtual industrywide #ChangeMusic Summit with leaders in music and media. The digital event is part of an ongoing series of initiatives facilitated by the Recording Academy to help accelerate equity and diverse representation within the organization and to further support inclusion outcomes across the wider music industry. 

Watch the #ChangeMusic Summit in full below. 

The four-hour event brought together leaders, executives and experts for panels on shifting culture, amplifying diverse voices, putting leadership in action and driving systemic change throughout the music community. As well, prominent culture trailblazers and music business leaders openly discussed best practices and strategies to encourage systemic change and elevate women, Black and Latinx, as well as all underrepresented music creators and professionals.

Some of the event's participants included singer-songwriters Ledisi and Maimouna "Mumu Fresh" Youssef; television personalities Rocsi Diaz and Jeff Johnson; music culture influencer Karen Civil; award-winning poet and president of the Recording Academy's Chicago Chapter J. Ivy; and prominent executives and industry professionals including Tuma Basa (YouTube), Ingrid Best (Combs Enterprises), Binta Brown (omalilly projects; Black Music Action Coalition), Shari Bryant (Roc Nation), Jeff Burroughs (Def Jam Recordings), Ryan Butler (Recording Academy), Valeisha Butterfield Jones (Recording Academy), Harvey Mason jr. (Recording Academy), Rashad Robinson (Color Of Change) and many others. See the full list of participants below.

As part of the summit, the Recording Academy and Color Of Change announced the forthcoming #ChangeMusic Roadmap, a tool to help people at all levels of the music industry take action to enact racial and social justice within the industry. The full roadmap will be released before the end of the year, however, the first aspect of the roadmap discussed was a needed commitment to transparent reporting on Black representation. 

Read: The Recording Academy & Color Of Change Team Up To Promote Positive Change In The Music Industry

"This is a crucial moment in our world, our nation and our society and it is now more important than ever that we bring people together to make progress on justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion," Recording Academy Chair and Interim President/CEO Harvey Mason jr. said. "As leaders in the music industry, we have an opportunity as role models to lead by example and set a progressive tone for culture and society. We are honored that so many from the industry joined this important conversation and we're committed to the work ahead."

"Black artists' rich contributions have undeniably shaped the music industry into what it is today. The industry must tear down the systems that silence, harm and pigeonhole Black artists for profitable gains," President of Color Of Change Rashad Robinson said. "Everyone has the responsibility to work towards progress. The #ChangeMusic Roadmap will begin the process of giving the industry the tools to challenge injustice and enact tangible change now. The Recording Academy is setting a strong example for the industry from the inside, holding those in power accountable to change. Together, we can propel music into the equitable future Black artists have earned, and always deserved."

Participants in the #ChangeMusic Summit included: singer/songwriters Ledisi, Rico Love and Maimouna "Mumu Fresh" Youssef; television personalities Rocsi Diaz and Jeff Johnson; music culture influencer Karen Civil; poet J. Ivy; and prominent executives and industry professionals including Tuma Basa (YouTube), Ingrid Best (Combs Enterprises), Binta Brown (omalilly projects; Black Music Action Coalition), Shari Bryant (Roc Nation), Jeff Burroughs (Def Jam Recordings), Ryan Butler (Recording Academy), Valeisha Butterfield Jones (Recording Academy), Qiana Conley (Recording Academy), Caroline "Baroline" Diaz (Interscope Records), Michelle Edgar (Epic Records; Music Unites; XX Project), Ethiopia Habtemariam (Motown Records; Capitol Music Group), Erin Hall Harris (Combs Enterprises), Tammy Hurt (Recording Academy), Jeriel Johnson (Recording Academy), Debra Lee (formerly BET Networks), Harvey Mason jr. (Recording Academy), Adam McFarland (Blacksmith Recordings; #TheShowMustBePaused), Riggs Morales (Atlantic Records), Jessica Rivera (YouTube), Rashad Robinson (Color Of Change), Travis Robinson (Universal Music Group), Lenny Santiago (Roc Nation), Rashid Shabazz (Color Of Change), Dr. Maurice Stinnett (Warner Music Group), Tiffany R. Warren (Omnicom Group; ADCOLOR), and Roe Williams (KWL Enterprises).

The Recording Academy's strategic alliance with Color Of Change and solidarity with ongoing social justice movements, such as #TheShowMustBePaused, was also a highly prioritized conversation topic among attendees. 

Learn more about the progress and future announcements regarding the Recording Academy's Diversity & Inclusion efforts.

The Recording Academy Establishes Black Music Collective