ASCAP President Paul Williams
Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage

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What Songwriters Need To know About The DOJ's Review Of Consent Decrees

The Recording Academy filed comments with the Department Of Justice on their ASCAP and BMI Consent Decrees – here's what it means for putting money in songwriters' pockets

Advocacy/Aug 16, 2019 - 03:34 am

"The goal of the antitrust laws is to protect economic freedom and opportunity by promoting free and fair competition in the marketplace. The decades-old consent decrees now have the opposite effect." –from Comments of the Recording Academy on review of the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees, Conversations In Advocacy #62

For more than 75 years (!),consent decrees have governed the process by which performing rights organizations ASCAP and BMI license rights to publicly perform music. What does this mean, exactly? Despite seismic changes the music industry has undergone in seven-plus decades, musicians are compensated for public performance under the same constraints as they were when Franklin D. Roosevelt was president. Does that make sense in an era dominated by large digital music services, and not record players?

That’s just what the Department Of Justice intends to figure out, announcing earlier this summer their Antitrust Division will review the consent decrees with ASCAP and BMI. In the spirit of urging the DOJ to update the policies to reflect the modern music and technology ecosystem, the Recording Academy has now officially filed comments expressing its views and concerns.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">After 75 years, <a href="https://twitter.com/TheJusticeDept?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TheJusticeDept</a> plans to take a modern look at the consent decrees governing how the PROs compensate <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/songwriters?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#songwriters</a> for public performances.<a href="https://t.co/xiJDIQIq9d">https://t.co/xiJDIQIq9d</a></p>&mdash; GRAMMY Advocacy (@GRAMMYAdvocacy) <a href="https://twitter.com/GRAMMYAdvocacy/status/1137127483340402688?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">June 7, 2019</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

The extensive comments question the utility of the consent decrees in the 21st century, which now benefit the world’s largest and most profitable companies at the expense of fair market pay of individual songwriters. Basically, the evolution of the music ecosystem over the last 75 years has diminished the effectiveness of these consent decrees to help songwriters earn what they deserve.

The Academy worked closely with key stakeholders, including ASCAP and BMI, in drafting the comments to reflect the needs of its songwriter members. While comments from other key stakeholders were filed, the DOJ has yet to publically release any comments.  

In the meantime, the Recording Academy stands with the PROs and the music community in its optimism that the DOJ's Antitrust Division will recognize the need to bring the consent decrees into the 21st century and ensure musicians are properly compensated when their hard work is performed in public. Recently, Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division Makan Delrahim addressed exactly why the consent decrees require a fresh look.

"The ASCAP and BMI decrees have been in existence in some form for over seventy-five years and have effectively regulated how musicians are compensated for the public performance of their musical creations," said Delrahim. "There have been many changes in the music industry during this time, and the needs of music creators and music users have continued to evolve.  It is important for the Division to reassess periodically whether these decrees continue to serve the American consumer and whether they should be changed to achieve greater efficiency and enhance competition in light of innovations in the industry."

This issue will be a top conversation point at the upcoming District Advocate day on Oct. 2. Led by the first-ever District Advocate Ambassador, two-time GRAMMY winner Jason Mraz, the event marks the largest grassroots movement for music advocacy of the year. Recording Academy members will be connected with their member of Congress in hundreds of districts across the country to discuss key issues affecting music makers, including encouraging the DOJ to ensure fair compensation for songwriters during its review of consent decrees. Registration for members and non-members is now open.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">We&#39;re thrilled to announce that two-time GRAMMY-winner <a href="https://twitter.com/jason_mraz?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@jason_mraz</a> is the first-ever <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DistrictAdvocate?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DistrictAdvocate</a> Ambassador and will encourage and inspire other <a href="https://twitter.com/RecordingAcad?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RecordingAcad</a> members and music supporters to join him in this nationwide rally, Oct. 2nd. Learn more: <a href="https://t.co/Rjzz4e9V7g">https://t.co/Rjzz4e9V7g</a> <a href="https://t.co/3XKY5sX44x">pic.twitter.com/3XKY5sX44x</a></p>&mdash; GRAMMY Advocacy (@GRAMMYAdvocacy) <a href="https://twitter.com/GRAMMYAdvocacy/status/1161271192294215686?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 13, 2019</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

By staying vigilant for causes like this that have very real bearing on how music makers are paid for their hard work and creation of intellectual property, the Recording Academy and its members lead the fight for creators' rights year-round in Washington and in local music communities across the nation. As the Antitrust Division reconsiders these long-outdated consent decrees, the Academy hopes its comments and the comments of those stakeholders affected by their decision are taken into the serious account they deserve. After all, a lot has changed in 75 years.

Be A District Advocate: Stand Up and Support Music Creators' Rights

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Lauren Daigle and Tammy Hurt in a GOTH meeting with Congressman Moran

Photo: Leigh Vogel

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The House Of Representatives Has Passed The TICKET Act: Here's What You Need To Know

This legislative success for music fans comes just two short weeks after the Recording Academy's GRAMMYs on the Hill Advocacy Day, and passed by an overwhelming bipartisan vote.

Advocacy/May 17, 2024 - 09:32 pm

In an exciting step forward for the music community, the House of Representatives recently passed H.R. 3950, the Transparency In Charges for Key Events Ticketing (TICKET) Act, by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 388-24. This legislative success comes just two short weeks after the Recording Academy's GRAMMYs on the Hill Advocacy Day.

During the GRAMMYs on the Hill Advocacy Day, over sixty GRAMMY winners, nominees, and Recording Academy executives met with members of Congress to push for ticketing reform, including the House's TICKET Act and the Senate's Fans First Act. Throughout the day, the artist advocates told lawmakers how the broken ticket marketplace impacts their daily lives. Among the group was 2-time GRAMMY winner, Lauren Daigle, who detailed her experiences with bots and resellers driving up ticket prices, emphasizing the impact it has on the individuals hoping to purchase tickets to her shows. These conversations highlighted the importance of protecting the human connection that live music fosters between artists and fans and the clear need for ticket reforms to be passed by congress.

The House-passed TICKET Act brings transparency to the ticketing marketplace by implementing all-in pricing and takes major steps toward ending the harmful practices of speculative ticketing and deceptive websites. The bill, which also guarantees refunds for event cancellations, denotes serious progress in the fight to improve the ticketing marketplace.

The Recording Academy urges the Senate to seize this moment and pass S. 3457, the Fans First Act. The Fans First Act builds upon the House TICKET Act by strengthening its provisions against speculative ticketing and deceptive websites and improving price transparency by not only requiring all-in pricing, but mandating upfront itemization so fans know what they're paying for from the start. The Fans First Act also increases consumer protection by strengthening the BOTS Act and the FTC's ability to enforce any violations.

Upon its passage, Recording Academy CEO, Harvey Mason Jr. expressed gratitude for the bipartisan support and the swift movement of the TICKET Act through the House.

"Today's passage of the TICKET Act by the House of Representatives marks a significant step forward toward improving the concert ticket marketplace. The TICKET Act was a key focus of GRAMMYs on the Hill two weeks ago, and the Recording Academy thanks our Congressional leaders for bringing the bill to a vote shortly after meeting with Academy members.

We now urge the Senate to act quickly to incorporate the strong provisions contained in the Fans First Act and move a comprehensive ticket reform package that will provide transparency and protect artists and their fans. 

The passage of the TICKET Act represents a critical step toward dismantling the predatory practices that undermine this connection. It is a crucial step toward ensuring a more equitable and sustainable marketplace. The legislation not only benefits consumers but also safeguards the livelihoods of artists who depend on fair ticket sales. Its passage proves the power of advocacy and the importance of legislative action in preserving the special bond between artists and their audiences.

As we look forward to the Senate's taking further action on ticketing reform, the Recording Academy will continue to fight for a fairer, more equitable ticketing marketplace that ensures the connection between music makers and fans remains strong and untainted.   

Inside The New York Chapter's Advocacy For The Passage Of A. 127 — How It'd Help Protect Artistic Freedom

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Photo: Lauren Loverde

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Inside The New York Chapter’s Advocacy For The Passage Of A. 127 — How It’d Help Protect Artistic Freedom

At the heart of A.127 is the protection of artistic freedom during legal proceedings. The bill, which has already passed in the Senate, seeks to create standards for when an artist's creative work may be used in criminal trials.

Advocacy/May 15, 2024 - 03:30 pm

On Tuesday, May 7, members of the Recording Academy’s New York chapter took to the state capitol in Albany. Their mission? To advocate for the passage of A.127, a crucial piece of legislation designed to safeguard the creative works of artists across New York.

At the heart of A.127 is the protection of artistic freedom during legal proceedings. The bill, which has already passed in the Senate, seeks to create standards for when an artist's creative work may be used in criminal trials. If enacted into law, this measure would be a significant step towards ensuring that creators can express themselves freely without fear of their work being weaponized against them.

During the Albany Advocacy Day, Recording Academy advocates held meetings with the Assembly Speaker, Carl Heastie, Codes Chairman, Jeffrey Dinowitz, Assembly sponsor, Catalina Cruz, along with key members of the Assembly Codes Committee including, Gary Pretlow, Andrew Hevesi, Linda B. Rosenthal, John Zaccaro, Jr., Kenneth Zebrowski. In addition to these meetings, Recording Academy members met with Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado, the powerful Assembly Black, Hispanic, and Puerto Rican Caucus, and the Assembly Codes Staff. Many key Senators stopped by meetings to reiterate their support for the legislation, including Senate sponsor and Codes Chair, Jamaal Bailey.

Advocates included New York Chapter President Torae Carr, iconic rap artist and producer Papoose, producer and composer Ray Angry, and CEO of 300 Entertainment Kevin Liles. Additionally, Granville Mullins, GRAMMY Nominated Songwriter/Musician, Nathaniel Reichman, GRAMMY Nominated Producer/Mixer, Cassandra Kubinski, Singer/Songwriter, William Derella, Artist Manager and Lynn Gonzalez, Partner, Granderson Des Rochers, LLP were in attendance.

While leaving Albany, Papoose shared an impassioned plea to his followers on Instagram to support the effort.

Just one week later, on May 14, the Assembly Codes Committee advanced the bill out of committee to the Rules Committee, Chaired by the Speaker, priming it for full consideration by the Assembly in the coming weeks.

One of the key issues Academy advocates highlighted in their meetings regarding A.127 is the disproportionate impact that the current practices have on certain communities, particularly Black and Brown artists, who often find their work unfairly scrutinized and misinterpreted in legal settings. While the legislation is not genre-specific, it acknowledges the historical targeting of hip hop and rap artists and seeks to rectify this by requiring prosecutors to show the relevance and admissibility of creative works in court.

The significance of A.127 cannot be overstated, particularly in a state as culturally rich and economically influential as New York. The music industry is a large part of the state's economy, providing over 200,000 jobs and contributing close to $20 billion to its GDP. With a vibrant community of 129,000 songwriters, New York needs to enact this critical legislation that will protect the state's music community.

The Recording Academy’s continued advocacy for A.127 only further highlights the Academy’s dedication to protecting the rights of music creators and upholding the fundamental principles of free expression. As the bill moves forward, it is essential for lawmakers to recognize the importance of protecting creative freedom and ensure that New York remains a beacon of artistic expression.

Inside The Inaugural GRAMMYs On The Hill Future Forum, Exploring The Impact Of AI On The Music Community

Future Forum Advocacy
(L-R) Todd Dupler, Carl "Kokayi Walker, Dani Deahl

Photo: Paul Morigi

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Inside The Inaugural GRAMMYs On The Hill Future Forum, Exploring The Impact Of AI On The Music Community

Designed to provide a space to explore the most pressing issues facing music, this momentous occasion served as a pivotal platform to delve into the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on the music community.

Advocacy/May 10, 2024 - 01:48 pm

On Friday, May 3, an innovative event unfolded in the heart of Washington, D.C., as the Recording Academy in collaboration with the Human Artistry CampAIgn orchestrated the inaugural GRAMMYs on the Hill Future Forum. Designed to provide a space to explore the most pressing issues facing music, this momentous occasion served as a pivotal platform to delve into the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on the music community.

The afternoon commenced with a series of captivating panel discussions, each curated to explore both the promise and the peril that AI presents to music makers. Moderated by Todd Dupler, the Chief Advocacy & Public Policy Officer at the Recording Academy, the first panel featured esteemed industry figures including Dani Deahl, a distinguished DJ, producer, Governor for the Recording Academy's Chicago Chapter, and Head of Communications and Creator Insights for BandLab, alongside Kokayi, a GRAMMY-nominated artist renowned for his prowess as a producer, emcee, vocalist, and thought leader.

Insights flowed as panelists dissected the relationship between AI and human creativity, shedding light on the transformative potential of AI-driven tools in music production, composition, and distribution. Dani Deahl demonstrated live how she ethically uses AI as a tool to enhance her music, including stem separation, voice or tone replacement, and song generation. One demonstration used tone-altering AI to record Kokayi and make him sound like a female pop artist.

Deahl explained how this AI technology represented an ethical, pro-artist approach to AI because the artist whose voice was used entered into a licensing agreement with the platform, the voice recording was pulled from works specifically created for the platform, and the artist is compensated every time her tone is used — including during the demonstration. The panel went on to discuss how artists embraced new technology in the past and how present technology changes the way we create music.

Following this illuminating discussion, the stage was set for the second panel, moderated by Michael Lewan, the Managing Director of Advocacy & Public Policy at the Academy. Dr. Moiya McTier, a Senior Advisor at the Human Artistry Campaign, joined with Juan Winans, a three-time GRAMMY nominated artist and songwriter, and Michael Hendrix, the Policy Director for Gov. Bill Lee of Tennessee. Diving deeper into the threats that AI poses to artists and creators, the panelists discussed policymaking when it comes to AI—including the ELVIS Act, which recently became law in Tennessee and is the first law of its kind to protect individuals from AI models misusing their name, image, and likeness.

The Future Forum is one of many ways the Recording Academy has been engaged in the conversations surrounding AI. Last year, the Recording Academy also teamed up with members of the music community for the Human Artistry CampAIgn which launched in March of 2023. This Campaign is a coalition focused on protecting human art and creativity as artificial intelligence continues to develop. In addition to joining this coalition, the Recording Academy has played a significant role in safeguarding human creativity and helping creators navigate artificial intelligence.

Days prior during the GRAMMYs on the Hill Advocacy Day, the Recording Academy brought together 60+ GRAMMY winners and nominees along with Academy executives to advocate for legislation such as No AI FRAUD Act in the House of Representatives and the Senate's No FAKES Act discussion draft, which protects artists image and likeness.

As the Future Forum panels ended, the convivial atmosphere transitioned seamlessly into a vibrant reception, where Recording Academy members from the DMV, Philadelphia, and New York convened. Against the backdrop of stimulating conversations and shared insights, attendees exchanged ideas, forged connections, and celebrated the perfect ending to an eventful GRAMMYs on the Hill week.

The Recording Academy will continue to advocate and hold discussions surrounding fostering human connection and artistic excellence in the age of AI and the GRAMMYs on the Hill Future Forum served as a testament to this commitment. As music's biggest week in Washington, D.C. reached its crescendo, the inaugural Future Forum reinstated the importance of a future where AI augments — rather than deters — human creativity.

Here's What Went Down At Advocacy Day 2024: The Fight For AI Safeguards And Ticketing Reform Hit Capitol Hill

Artists attend the GRAMMYs on the Hill x White House Advocacy Day at the White House
Artists attend the GRAMMYs on the Hill x White House Advocacy Day at the White House on May 01, 2024 in Washington, DC

Photo: Shannon Finney/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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Here's What Went Down At Advocacy Day 2024: The Fight For AI Safeguards And Ticketing Reform Hit Capitol Hill

At Advocacy Day 2024 the centerpiece of the annual GRAMMYs On The Hill, music advocates took to Capitol Hill to fight for music peoples' rights — chiefly involving AI and ticketing.

Advocacy/May 8, 2024 - 01:15 am

"We have a short window of time this morning, where we're going to download a lot of information into your brain." So told Todd Dupler, the Recording Academy's Chief Advocacy & Public Policy Officer, early in the morning of May Day, to a small, still-waking-up, but attentive crowd at the Hamilton Live in Washington, D.C.

After Michael Lewan — the Recording Academy's Managing Director of State and Federal Advocacy — laid down some logistical ground rules, the throng set forth into the pre-summer mugginess to advocate for two crucial policy needs.

The first is calling on Congress to protect the image, likeness and voice of individual creators from AI fakes through legislative measures such as the No AI FRAUD Act in the House of Representatives and the Senate's No FAKES Act discussion draft. 

The second is reforming the live event ticket marketplace to better protect artists and fans through legislation including the Fans First Act and a similar House bill, the TICKET Act.

After the morning briefing, groups with advocates went to the U.S. Capitol for dozens of meetings with bipartisan and bicameral legislators to seek their support for these important issues and bills. Throughout the morning, Academy members met with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA), House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Peter Welch (D-VT), along with multiple House Chairs and Ranking Members, and other influential leaders.

After these initial meetings, the GRAMMYs On The Hill 2024 advocates stopped by the historic Nancy Pelosi Cannon Caucus Room to park, dine on lunch, and meet with more key champions.

After introductory remarks from Lewan, the No AI Fraud Act's lead sponsor, Rep. María Elvira Salazar (R-FL) — who Lewan praised as "the brains behind it" — took the podium. "Your identity is in danger because of artificial intelligence," Salazar asserted.

And she drilled down into why — which involved portents far afield from music peoples' rights.

"Did you know that right now, someone with not very good intentions, can grab the image and voice and likeness of your daughter or so, and transfer that information to make pornography?" Salazar said. "Someone produces your voice and likeness and insults a boss, and you may be fired."

Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Salazar's lead co-sponsor of the No AI Fraud Act, echoed the congresswoman's sentiment. "It's not just about the use of your likeness," she said. "You have the right to ask permission to get compensated for it.

Following the lunch briefing, the 60 plus advocates headed back across the nation's capital to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for a special roundtable discussion with senior members of the Biden-Harris Administration. While at the White House, advocates were briefed on AI policy, ticket reforms, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the president's work on gun violence, before a special conversation with Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. 

And with that, with another successful Advocacy Day in the bag, music advocates went home assured that they'd made a phenomenal difference in the music landscape.

To those who would abuse the ticketing system — meet the true music fans. And, to those who'd leverage artificial intelligence against real peoples' autonomies — meet human power.

The 2024 GRAMMYs On The Hill Awards were sponsored by City National Bank and benefited the GRAMMY Museum.

How The House's No AI FRAUD Act And Tenn.'s ELVIS Act Will Protect Human Creativity