I'm not known as an autograph hound, but there I was, backstage at the GRAMMYs and MusiCares Person of the Year dinner, pen in hand, waiting for celebrity sightings. But these signatures were not for my personal collection, but rather for an "artist petition" targeted at Congress, the media, and the broadcast industry about performance royalties and the Performance Rights Act.
It wasn't surprising that nearly 25 accomplished artists signed on. They know of the importance of this income stream to their session musicians and backup singers, as well as the legends who inspired them. What did surprise me was the increased awareness about the issue, and all in just one year's time. At the 51st GRAMMYs in 2009, we held a GRAMMY Town Hall about performance royalties — a new topic to many of the 300 members of the music community attending. This year, each artist was keenly aware of the legislation, the state of play for the bill, and the importance of making their voices heard.
Thanks to all the artists who signed on, as well as to The Recording Academy Los Angeles Chapter's Lizzy Moore and Advocacy's Erin Bach, my fellow autograph seekers. The full petition and list of signers is below.
"We, the undersigned artists, believe in the partnership between music and radio. We believe that artists (including the background singers and musicians and the great legacy artists of the past decades) deserve to be compensated when their music is used by radio.
We support the Performance Rights Act because it is fair to radio and fair to artists. We encourage the radio industry to work with the music community and Congress to pass the Performance Rights Act. Together, we can create a true partnership that benefits radio, artists and musicians, and fans."
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Stephen Stills, Kenny Aronoff, Sheryl Crow, Tre Cool, Mike Dirnt and Billie Joe of Green Day, Phil Soussan, Jackson Browne, Don Was, Dave Matthews, Josh Groban, Travis Barker, Andrea Bocelli, Apl.de.ap, Taboo, Will.i.am and Fergie of Black Eyed Peas, Drake, Mary J Blige, Mick Fleetwood, Stevie Nicks, David Foster and Lil Wayne