MusicBus Departing Soon. Drivers Wanted.

  • Neil Portnow speaks at the 2014 GRAMMYs on the Hill Awards on April 2 at The Hamilton in Washington, D.C.
    Photo: Leigh Vogel/
April 21, 2014 -- 1:08 pm PDT

Daryl P. Friedman's picture
Daryl P. Friedman

It might not be a Magical Mystery Tour, but a "bus" is waiting to take you away. And you will want a ticket to ride.

In fact, you might even want to drive.

Sometimes the only way for disparate folks to get to a single destination at the same time is to have them travel together. This way, no one gets lost and no one gets left out. The passengers might have to adjust their schedules — not to mention their expectations — to take the ride, but everyone gets exactly where they need to be at the right time.

For instance, there are several music-related trade groups in Washington, all speaking for different sectors — singers, musicians, songwriters, publishers, producers — all pushing Congress to keep their specialized issues at the forefront when it comes to legislation. Ultimately, they all have the same goal: fairness in terms of royalty payouts, copyright protections and compensation. We're all trying to reach the same destination. This is the idea behind The Academy's rallying cry of "harmony, unity, parity," and the move to create music omnibus legislation — or a "MusicBus" — that addresses the broader needs of the music community in one bill that all in the music community can support.

Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow made the call for a MusicBus bill in his address to attendees at the spectacularly well-attended GRAMMYs on the Hill Awards ceremony April 2 at The Hamilton, as well as in a Roll Call editorial that ran the following day.

"Imagine the political impact of a united music industry — with artists, composers, producers, and engineers all seeing their interests advance in one piece of legislation," noted Portnow. "We are an industry of the greatest communicators on the planet and together we can drive the MusicBus to its ultimate destination — harmony, unity and parity for all of our constituents."

The road has been partially paved for the trip. The past six months have seen proposed legislation with great potential benefits for our membership, including the recent Songwriters Equity Act, co-sponsored by Reps. Doug Collins of Georgia, Hakeem Jeffries of New York and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, and the Fair Market Royalty Act, unveiled last fall by former Rep. Mel Watt of North Carolina. Each bill looks to carry our community a little further down the road toward significant changes that will improve the outlook for music makers. But these are small steps where a giant leap may be necessary.

Legislators such as Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi themselves hailed the idea, echoing the call for a unified front. But soon it will be your turn to sit behind the wheel.

Kevin McCarthy speaks at the
2014 GRAMMYs on the Hill Awards
on April 2 at The Hamilton in Washington, D.C.
Photo: Paul Morigi/

Nancy Pelosi speaks at the
2014 GRAMMYs on the Hill Awards
on April 2 at The Hamilton in Washington, D.C.
Photo: Paul Morigi/

Soon we will take our GRAMMYs on the Hill concept to your door with a new program, GRAMMYs in my District. There are 435 congressional districts in the United States, and we have Academy members in most of them. With GIMD, we'll give you the tools to bring the message of the MusicBus ("fair market pay for all music creators across all platforms") to your legislator's local office.

So be ready for this new push for music licensing reform that benefits all music creators. The MusicBus will be pulling up to your door in the coming months and we'll ask you to take a turn at the wheel. Because sometimes to get a better music license, all you need is a driver's license.