District Advocate Day

There may not be any legislation that would create a performance royalty for radio in circulation in Congress, but that doesn’t mean the music industry has given up its push to see one signed into law. Today (Oct. 2) the Recording Academy conducts its annual district advocacy day, featuring local musicians meeting with lawmakers who are back at home during the two-week congressional recess. Deborah Dugan, President of the Recording Academy, said she views District Advocate Day as a way for music creators to “make their voices heard and remind legislators of the vital role they play in our communities and our culture.”

The top talking point in 2019 isn’t a royalty on AM/FM airplay. Instead, the music industry is pushing for passage of a bill that would create a small claims court for copyright cases. It sees it as especially helpful to independent artists and songwriters who don't have the resources needed to protect their work against infringement in the current federal court framework.

Second on the Recording Academy’s list of priorities is the adoption of a performance royalty on radio airplay. It is also telling members of Congress that they should support efforts to terminate the consent decrees that govern the licensing of music by ASCAP and BMI. The Department of Justice is currently considering that move, and if it follows through it could push the music licensing issue into Congress where some—including the National Association of Broadcasters—think the protections currently enjoyed by music users should be written into federal copyright law.

District Advocate Day is the follow up to the Recording Academy's annual Grammys on the Hill event held each April in Washington. The two tentpole advocacy events are credited with helping to pass the Music Modernization Act into law, the largest update to music legislation in the past 40 years, which was signed into law by President Trump last October.