Last week I attended a town hall meeting at The Recording Academy - Los Angeles Chapter with Rep. Judy Chu and others. It seems like there are very few times when you can say that someone in Congress "gets it" but this was one of them. There are several issues artists and songwriters are up against in the fight to be compensated for our creations. Too many people think it's ok to use music for free to sell billions of dollars in advertising, products, TV shows, etc., that only go in the pockets of big business, radio stations, websites, tech companies and sadly some TV production companies and networks who should know better. As someone said last night, music sells everything but music. Sad but true. The bs rock star life you see on TV and movies is NOT the reality of 99% of music creators so if you truly love music I urge you not to buy into that thinking and learn a little about how music creators are paid. If you are a musician who doesn't understand how you are paid for your recorded works I strongly urge you to understand this portion of the business. It's not that hard and the info is available through many reputable sources includingGRAMMYs on the Hill, Music First Coalition, I Respect Music Org, your PRO, etc. The copyright issue in particular doesn't just affect musicians, it will affect anyone who creates and copyrights their work. The Congresswoman along with about 50 other Reps from both sides of the aisle are involved in trying stop the devaluation of music and other creative works and the loss of jobs that these creative industries support. Please take a look at what they are doing here: In addition Grammys on the Hill is looking for artists who would like to join them for this year's event in Washington DC scheduled for April 2-3. You can find out more info here:

These are complex and multi-layered issues and I'm only providing some BRIEF info on some of the issues so that people might take a closer look at each through the links I am providing and decide for themselves. It's one thing to give a fan a song or cd it's a whole other thing to have that song used to sell products or advertising and not be compensated for it.

1. Artists/performers are not paid for radio play. Thanks to the NAB/Nat'l Assn. of Broadcasters army of lobbyists, the US does not pay the artists you hear on the radio, never has. You know who else doesn't pay artist for airplay? Places like Iran and N. Korea. Great company to be in, way to go USA. There is a new article in Newsweek explaining this issue in a very simple and straightforward way: Only songwriters/publishers are compensation, and thank god for that, but they only receive pennies per play and that's only if their PRO tracks the plays. Unfortunately, the PRO's really only take a poll of plays so the same Top 40 songs, classics and standards ever get a check. Blah, blah, blah, that's another issue… Check out Music First and I Respect Music for more info on how to help. A simple email to your Rep goes a long way.

2. Streaming royalty rates. Music streaming companies such as Pandora and others are trying to get the Copyright Royalty Board to lowered the ridiculously low royalty rate while their execs cash out millions in stock options! On average, the number of times a song has to be played in order for the creator to make just $.08 cents is 1000 times!!! Co-writers/publishers all have to split that $.08 btw. Hey, it's better than having it stolen from me but not by much! There is also a divide and conquer mentality with many of these companies who are trying to strike deals directly with the 3 remaining major labels. Only the major labels and the tech companies will benefit from these deals. Let's be realistic streaming radio is here to stay, whether some artists like it or not, so let's work together to make sure we are compensated. The reason we are in this situation in the first place is because music people (mostly big labels and RIAA) dug in their heels when all this started instead of getting on board and trying to work with the emerging technologies. We all love how new technologies help us create and listen to music. Let's just be sure it's done legally. The big labels are going to take care of themselves but if you are an indie artist, or fan who loves indie artists, then let your reps know it's not ok to lower the royalty rate.

3. Overhaul of copyright laws. Tech companies and other types of businesses are trying to strip away copyright protect and terms to use content for free while they charge the public to use their devices, sites, etc. Well, that seems like a no-brainer issue to me. Target doesn't get it's "contents" for free neither should these guys. This is one we should all be concerned with no matter your business.

4. Piracy – as a nation we lose billions in revenue to internet piracy. Intellectual property of all types is one of our country's greatest assets and must be protected. Again, to me this is a no-brainer but for the most part the same person who has no trouble illegally downloading a music file or movie would never think of shoplifting. Guess what. Same thing.

Remember big biz has lobbyists in Washington 24/7 and that's tough to compete with but not impossible. The rest of us can write letters, call, email and get involved with some of the links I've provided. Thanks for reading

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