One week after a radio royalty bill was teed up in Congress, the music industry will hold its largest annual advocacy program Wednesday and Thursday in Washington to help muster support for the proposed legislation. The Recording Academy’s Grammys on the Hill program mixes live performances and a star-studded awards show with a daylong lobbying blitz.
The annual lobby-palooza gets underway with an awards celebration today (Apr. 5) at the Hamilton Live where Keith Urban, fresh from the ACM Awards in Las Vegas, will receive the Recording Artists’ Coalition Award for his musical achievements and commitment to music education programs. The Academy will also honor Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tom Udall (D-NM) for their support of music programs and the National Endowment for the Arts. The Wednesday night mash-up of music and politics is expected to draw more than 60 members of Congress, along with a slew of Grammy-winning artists, producers and songwriters, including producer Peter Asher, Americana artist William Bell, rapper Chill Moody, Duke Fakir of the Four Tops, contemporary Christian singer/songwriter Natalie Grant, R&B singer/songwriter Mario and Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick. Martina McBride will host the ceremony, which will feature performances by Urban, John Popper of Blues Traveler and Wynonna. The Awards are sponsored by performance rights organization SESAC with proceeds going to the Grammy Museum.
On Thursday more than 100 music creators from across the country will take to the halls of Congress to push for support for the Fair Play Fair Pay Act, which would abolish AM/FM radio’s long-held exemption and require broadcasters to pay a royalty for on-air music use. Introduced by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), its cosponsors in the House contend current music licensing laws are “antiquated and unfair” and say the proposed bill would ensure all radio services play by the same rules. Music creators are also expected to talk up the proposed Allocation for Music Producers Act (AMP Act), which would include producers in copyright law for the first time.
The hope is that by mobilizing its star power, the music industry can bring its issues to the frontlines so lawmakers better understand how they impact not only the music but music creators nationwide, including in their hometowns.
The annual program comes one month after the NAB’s State Leadership Conference, which saw more than 500 broadcasters swarming Capitol Hill to lobby for pro-radio and television issues. Broadcasters have successfully sidelined a series of efforts to adopt a performance royalty over the past decade by enlisting members of Congress to go on record opposing such a fee. That strategy is again being used this year with more lawmakers signing at a quicker pace than in the past. To date 168 House members—more than half the 216 currently needed to block a bill—and 17 Senators have gone on record opposing a radio royalty. The National Association of Broadcasters says those signatures acknowledge broadcast radio’s “indispensable role” in breaking new artists and promoting record sales.