Representatives of the worlds of music and politics came together at The Recording Academy®’s 2016 GRAMMYs on the Hill® Awards. The event took place Wednesday, April 13 at The Hamilton in Washington, D.C.
Three-time GRAMMY® winners Zac Brown Band, received the Recording Artists’ Coalition® Award for their musical achievements and commitment to philanthropic causes, including Zac Brown’s Camp Southern Ground, the Boot Campaign, City of Hope, MusiCares, and the USO.
The Recording Academy also honored Reps. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) and Thomas J. Rooney (R-Fla.), co-sponsors of the Allocation For Music Producers Act (H.R. 1457), also known as the AMP Act, a bill that would streamline how producers receive performance royalties. Both legislators are being recognized for their support and understanding of vital issues impacting music creators.
One of the highlights of the night was when members Representative Joe Crowley (D-NY) performed “The Weight” by The Band with Warren Haynes and members of Congress and backed by a band that included Recording Academy president Neil Portnow.
But it was also a sobering time as artist reflected on why so many of them had gathered in Washington: to fight for fair pay for artists. In an interview, legendary singer-songwriter, record producer, and former record executive Smokey Robinson stressed why artists should be fairly compensated.
“Because they’re working and the radio stations are making beaucoup money from programming their music, and the writers, which I’m happy about that because I’m a writer and a publisher so I’ve been being paid on both ends all along but as far as the artists go, who don’t write the songs who don’t publish the songs. Their voices and their instruments are making these radio stations make money so they should be compensated for that. Now we’ve included the engineers and the producers and all of the people who make the music, they should be compensated. Radio stations are making billions of dollars, so they’ve got the money to do it, but they just haven’t done it because no one has made them do so. So, I’m hoping that this will help.”
Dee Snider, famously known as frontman for heavy metal band Twisted Sister, singer-songwriter, screenwriter, radio personality, and actor recalled how not being fairly compensated impacted his life.
“I can only draw from my own personal experience. When I was here 30 years ago, testifying before the senate committee on censorship and PMR I felt that was the biggest thing to me as a musician was censorship. Within a few years the bottom fell out of my career and after selling millions and millions of records thinking I was set for life. I wasn’t set for life. I wasn’t set for life for a lot of reasons, but one of the reasons was that the radio stations have not paid one cent for the hundreds of thousands of times they played my music. MTV did not pay one penny so I lost everything. I’m not blaming it solely on them, but knowing that this movement is happening and trying to correct the wrongs of the past and help today’s artists and future artists to get some sort of remuneration, some financial compensation for the music that’s keeping these radio stations alive. They like to scream, they’re promoting the bands, but are they really promoting the eagles? I don’t think so. They are making their money by playing our music so for future artists, contemporary artists and even for the heritage artists, it’s an important fight.”
Recent Grammy winner and R&B artist Kendra Foster echoed the sentiments of her peers. “For me it’s extremely important because it’s my livelihood and it’s a livelihood and I feel like often we’re fighting so hard to validate art’s importance and humanity and if we’re providing it all the time and that’s what you want we’ve got to give it them, we should be paid and it should be in schools and it should be properly represented on the market and fair compensation should prevail. So I think it’s important for creatives to be validated and to get fair market value as the market changes.”