Does Advocacy Work?
Daryl P. Friedman
What a difference a month makes.
One month ago, during GRAMMYs on the Hill, 100 GRAMMY winners, nominees and music professionals from all over the country and all walks of life, came to Washington with one goal: to be advocates for the next generation of music creators. Their meetings with legislators were echoed around the country as thousands more turned to social media and other platforms to advocate Congress. Now, four short weeks later, their work has already begun to pay off with two significant accomplishments.
First, Congress started the process to modernize our nation’s outdated and broken copyright laws when the House of Representatives listened to our pleas and overwhelmingly passed the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act (H.R. 1695).
The bill had become unnecessarily controversial after some misinformation spread, and our advocates in D.C. and nationwide worked both sides of the aisle to educate Congress on the need for this bill and note its importance to the music community.
20 days later, the bill passed the House by a very uncontroversial vote of 378 to 48.
The bill elevates the Register of Copyright to a presidential appointee confirmed by the senate—giving the office more autonomy to implement the reforms the music community has clamored for. Following its passage, bipartisan Senate leaders introduced a companion bill with the goal to deliver it to the President to be signed into law.
Second, despite a White House threat to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the House and the Senate agreed to a bipartisan spending package that increases funding for the NEA. Congress listened to our advocates, and those from dozens of other like-minded advocacy groups, and increased the agency’s budget by $2 million—a clear sign that music and the arts still have champions in Washington.
H.R. 1695 and NEA funding were two of GRAMMYs on the Hill’s five legislative priorities; and while work still must continue to fully modernize copyright laws and ensure funding for the NEA beyond 2017, our accomplishments after one month bode well for continued progress and success.
None of this could happen without intense advocacy efforts: both grassroots and in the Capitol. So we congratulate our music creators who became Citizen-Advocates for the cause.
Advocacy works. Or more accurately, Recording Academy Advocates work. They work hard. They work effectively. And the entire music community benefits from their efforts.