Grammy in my district

Robert Fisher, Congresswoman Julia Brownley and John Baffa.
Robert Fisher, Congresswoman Julia Brownley and John Baffa.

by Pam Baumgardner

One of the highest musical accomplishments one can earn is the Grammy awarded by the Recording Academy to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry. And though most people think of the Grammys as just an annual televised event featuring their favorite artists, but the organization actually goes above and beyond with advocacy and helping toeffect public policy.  One of those advocacy groups is “Grammys in my District”launched in 2014 and isnow held throughout the United States in order to bring music creators to the local offices ofelected officials in their own districts. The purpose is to let lawmakers know that music creators are an important part of their voting constituency and to discuss the important issues in their industry.

On October 26, music professionals from our area including Bevan Manson, Toni Jannotta and Grammy winner John Baffa (TV Tray Recording Studio) met with Congresswoman Julia Brownley who represents the 26th District of California at her office in Thousand Oaks.

  • The Fair Pay Fair Play Act (H.R. 1733) – The Fair Play Fair Pay Act is bipartisanlegislation that will reform music licensing for sound recordings. The bill modernizes music licensing ina logical, comprehensive way. It will ensure that all music services play by the same rules, whileprotecting small broadcasters, so that music creators receive fair market value for their work.
  • The Allocation for Music Producers Act (H.R. 1457) – Music producers are an integralpart of the creative process for a sound recording, yet they have never been mentioned in copyright law.The AMP Act would allow producers and engineers to get direct payment of their digital royaltiesthrough SoundExchange. This bipartisan bill has no opposition and is non-controversial.
  • And Reforming the Consent Decrees for Songwriters & the Songwriter Equity Act (H.R. 1283) —Songwriters are subjected to decades-old consent decrees that restrict how ASCAP and BMI, the twolargest performing rights organizations, license their work. This summer, the DOJ issued a harmfuldecision making the consent decrees even worse. Congress should ensure that songwriters ultimately getthe reforms they need to receive fair compensation. H.R. 1283 is step toward reform that modernizes therate setting process for songwriters.

The meeting went extremely well. Baffa felt that the Congresswoman was very receptive to the concerns brought to the meeting.  He said, “I feel like she is already a champion of the arts, but it was good to meet with her and to confirm that.”

As far as the bottom line goes, Baffa explained, “Ultimately, we need to ensure consistency and fair pay for musicians and music creators, especially in this digital age. These laws will better protect us and provide a more modern structure for the business of music.”

Baffa won his Grammy a couple of years ago for “Plectra and Percussion Dances,” by Partch in the Best Classical Compendium category.  He said, “It’s an amazing alternative avant-garde classical album, performed on hand-built instruments constructed specifically for this music.”

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