“Why does Rice play Texas?”
President John F. Kennedy, Sept. 12, 1962, Rice University
It should be clear by now that when it comes to sheer lobbying power expressed in terms of money and access, Big Tech has put the creative community up against it. And not only has Big Tech put their collective boots on our necks, they have joined in the MIC Coalition cartel for the express purpose of crushing any opposition.
We must properly and grimly assess the opposition and our resources. I would not say that the odds are in our favor, but the odds are what they are and I don’t think any of us are ready to roll over and show the belly in surrender.
We actually have made significant progress over the last few years with both legacy types of lobbying as well as grassroots organizing. Both are absolutely essential.
The music community’s “value gap” campaign in Europe started when Google had a lock on the White House and Congress. It should not be surprising that the value gap campaign has gained traction with these countries that historically support their culture and independence from American multinational neo-colonialism and are not afraid to strike back against Google’s monopoly.
Blake Morgan and the #irespectmusic campaign was the foremost grassroots organizing effort in the music industry and has become a case study for doing it right. As Blake told me for this post, “Again and again, when we music makers––and our representative organizations––take action by rolling up our sleeves instead of wringing our hands, we win. Individually and together, when we continue to stand up and speak out, we demonstrate how powerful we really are.”
Another example of creators fighting back is the Recording Academy’s recent “District Advocacy Day” in which more than 1,000 performers in all 50 states visited their Congressional and Senate offices to advocate on the Fair Play Fair Pay Act (artist pay for radio play), the CLASSICs Act (pay artists on digital royalties for pre-72 recordings), the AMP Act (pay producers for digital royalties) and other legislation.
#irespectmusic and District Advocacy Day should put to rest forever the myth that the music industry only exists in New York, Nashville and Los Angeles. This is a common trope that our opponents use against us. Leveraging the grass roots is a long term process. Members of Congress outside of the “centers” are discovering for the first time that songwriters and musicians actually live in their districts. Creators are discovering, some for the first time, that they will be heard if they show up.
The Content Creators Coalition is still another example of artists joining together and working to make their voices heard in Washington. C3 President Melvin Gibbs articulates the artist and songwriter perspective to defend the encroachment by the massive multinational corporations in the MIC Coalition specifically and Big Tech in general.
I’ve also been impressed with how artists rally to each other’s aid when attacked, the most recent example being the artists who came to the defense of Miranda Mulholland after she was gratuitously slimed by Google in Canada.
Artists and songwriters have made great strides in getting their voices heard over the corporate insiders and crony capitalists in the connected class.
This is not the time to give up. It’s the time to dig in.