Remarks at the California Copyright Conference #irespectmusic Grassroots Advocacy Panel with Adam Dorn, Karoline Kramer Gould, David Lowery and Blake Morgan
What a great way to start Grammy Week! Last night Adam Dorn, Karoline Kramer Gould, David Lowery and Blake Morgan came together to tell their personal stories and they let me moderate. Each of them has an inspiring story of how they came to their personal epiphany, their inspiration to turn to advocacy as part of their lives.
And in case it wasn’t clear–we were recruiting! Follow them on Twitter through the #irespectmusic and @theblakemorgan, @radioclevekkg @davidclowery @moceanworker and @musictechpolicy.
The following are my introductory remarks to the panel:
Successful advocacy sits on a three legged stool whether we like it or not—lobbyists, campaign contributions and individual action. The music industry and the larger entertainment industry has largely failed to achieve successful advocacy. We still have essentially the same problems today that we had 15 years ago and the industry is at least half its former size. In case you haven’t noticed, the cavalry is not coming.
Why? At the end of the day, until politicians think they may get unelected if they don’t listen, they’ll smile, take our money and our votes, and do nothing.
There is one leg of the stool that we have some control over—individual action. Any of us have the ability to take action and stand up rather than wait for some miracle from Washington. That action can range from a Tweet to putting our jobs on the line—and since our jobs are on the line anyway, we may as well tweet about it. And until we can deliver bodies at the polling place no one will fear getting unelected.
You’re going to have a lot of people asking for your vote in the next few months. They’re not shy about asking you for money and your vote, so you need not be shy about asking how they are going to vote on your issues. If that sounds aggressive, it is. In the long run, we may get a fair and just revision of the Copyright Act, but as the economists say, in the long run we’re all dead. The NAB has outlived generations of artists and songwriters and Google is learning from their example.
All of our speakers tonight have had this epiphany in one form or another and all of their stories are inspiring examples of individual action. Blake Morgan took on Pandora and Big Radio and founded the #irespectmusic campaign. Karoline Kramer Gould joined Blake in supporting the Fair Play, Fair Pay Act and became an inspiration to all of us. Adam Dorn started SONA out of spontaneous meetings with songwriters who were confounded by the state of the industry. And David Lowery started writing the Trichordist blog as a cathartic blog that has inspired thousands and is widely read.
As far as the moderator is concerned, my own epiphany in starting the MusicTechPolicy blog 10 years ago was largely the same—why is the news all bad and why isn’t the market producing an outlet for truth.
The #irespectmusic campaign grew out of Blake Morgan’s personal advocacy and opposition to Pandora’s Internet Radio Fairness Act. His viral posts on the Huffington Post about IRFA and what he perceived as Pandora’s deceptive PR tactics trying to enlist artist support against their own interest led directly to his advocacy in support of a performance royalty for terrestrial radio.
After IRFA failed to pass, Blake started an online petition to support a terrestrial radio royalty—and issue campaign as opposed to a particular piece of legislation. The petition has had over 13,000 signatures so far from music makers and music lovers. That made it easy to attach the #irespectmusic hashtag to the Fair Play, Fair Pay act when it was introduced by Blake’s Congressman, Jerry Nadler.
While the #irespectmusic campaign started with artist pay for radio play, it soon evolved into a campaign for fair treatment for all creators. This lead in turn to his recent lobbying trip to the Senate supporting the Songwriter Equity Act and an alliance with the NMPA.
Adam, Blake, David and Karoline all have inspired each other to continue in their individual advocacy and we hope can inspire you, too.