ENTERTAINMENT

Recording Academy Calls on Members to Join 'Summer of Advocacy'

The Recording Academy has announced a summer 2020 call-to-action initiative to help provide pandemic and tax relief for music creators and music businesses, and to promote social change through legislation. The seven-week effort will culminate with the academy’s seventh annual District Advocate event on Aug. 12.

Beginning Friday (June 26), all 21,098 active members of the Recording Academy may register to join the effort.  This includes 11,416 voting, 3,087 professional (formerly known as associate) and 6,595 student members (known in the academy as GRAMMYU).

General goals are fighting for fair protections for music creators, a safe return for music performances and an equitable recovery across all communities. Specific goals are additional COVID-19 relief and tax relief for music creators.

“We are grateful to Congress for the provisions in the CARES Act that helped freelance creators,” Harvey Mason Jr., chair and interim president/CEO of the Recording Academy, said in a statement.  “Now we call on Congress to improve the provisions to ensure creators fully benefit from the intent of the law, and that underserved communities get their fair share of the aid.”

In a note to all members, Mason states that the academy wants to capitalize on this moment of opportunity, the result of weeks of protest and heightened attention to social justice issues. “With Congress responding quickly to the ongoing effects of the pandemic and the urgent call to action on social justice issues, the Recording Academy wants to empower members to make an impact before the opportunity passes.”

The academy notes that the median income for a professional musician is less than $25,000 a year. “Independent music professionals will be among the last to return to work as the nation gradually reopens,” the academy said in a statement. “Data also shows that Black-owned businesses and workers are not benefitting equally in the recovery. This disparity must also be addressed… As Black music is a cornerstone of the music industry, Academy members will highlight this disparity in the recovery.”

The academy’s District Advocate program is one of its premier advocacy events, along with the annual Grammys on the Hill initiative. Grammys on the Hill, usually held in April, was canceled this year due to COVID-19.

The Aug. 12 District Advocate event will be held virtually. The academy is working to set up video conferences on that day between its members and their representatives in Congress and is asking its members to block out that entire day to accommodate their representative, who will likely not be able to specify a meeting time until the day before the session.

All meetings will take place via Zoom or an alternative video conference system, though the academy is willing to make accommodations for its less tech-savvy members: “If your computer, tablet or smartphone cannot accommodate a video conference, a dial-in number will be provided.”

The Recording Academy concludes its pitch to members, “Earlier this year, Recording Academy members played an integral role in ensuring that the CARES Act provided critical support for the music community dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. On August 12, they will show Congress this was no one hit wonder—there’s much more that lawmakers can and must do to protect music and its makers.”