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An Inside Look At The Recording Academy's Congressional Briefings During GRAMMY Week
Over GRAMMY Weekend in Las Vegas, the Recording Academy's Advocacy team gathered with a bipartisan group of Members of Congress including Reps. Ted Deutch (FL-22), Ron Estes (KS-04), Steven Horsford (NV-04), and Linda Sanchez (CA-38) as well as senior congressional staff from the House Ways and Means and House Judiciary Committees to discuss the importance of music legislation and how it has a real impact.
This applies not only to the artists that make up Music's Biggest Night, but countless other music creators who also work tirelessly to make a career out of their passions.
The Advocacy team jump-started its congressional briefings with remarks and a performance from GRAMMY nominee John Popper of Blues Traveler. Poppernot only showed his talent on the harmonica with a rendition of the National Anthem — he also discussed his experience throughout his long career in the music industry. The Blues Traveler frontman also discussed his public support for the American Music Fairness Act (AMFA).
The briefing continued with a songwriter panel consisting of three GRAMMY-nominated women — Emily Bear, Tayla Parx and Whitney Phillips. These songwriters and composers touched on many important topics, including the challenges that face women in the industry, how the pandemic affected the way they create, and the difficulties of making a living as a songwriter.
Tayla Parx, who has been in the industry since she starred in the film Hairspray at a young age, detailed the importance of making your voice heard as women — and how it has not been uncommon for her to be the only woman in the room during the creation of a song.
Whitney Phillips added to that point, describing how others have tried to take or diminish her ideas with the expectations that she wouldn’t speak up — a sentiment the other women echoed.
Additionally, the panel discussed the effects of COVID-19 on the music industry. Emily Bear, who went on to win the GRAMMY for Best Musical Theater Album for The Unofficial Bridgeton Musical, talked about her experience writing a full musical during the pandemic with her writing partner Abigail Barlow, while documenting the entire process, and going viral, on TikTok.
Phillips, who moved back home during the pandemic, did not let COVID stop her from creating new music — she only changed how she did it. Just as the Members of Congress in attendance all had to learn to operate via Zoom, so did the music industry.
One of the key things the panel discussed was the difficulty in making a living as a songwriter. Each woman echoed that most people they know are unable to let songwriting and producing be their only source of income because the compensation they receive is so little. And before the discussion wrapped, Bear played on the keyboard displaying her incredible talent.
Following the panel, the delegation traveled to The Hideout Studios in Henderson for a studio tour and production demonstration led by Academy members Zoe Thrall and Kevin Churko of the Hideout Studio, along with multi-GRAMMY winning producer Josh Gudwin, and Autumn Rowe and Kizzo Keaz, who won GRAMMYs on Sunday as producers of Jon Batiste’s We Are, which won multiple GRAMMYs at the 2022 GRAMMYs, including one for Album Of The Year.
While en route, Todd Dupler, Acting Chief Advocacy and Public Policy Officer, briefed the delegation on the HITS Act and the support it would provide artists so they can afford to create music both at home and in studios such as the Hideout.
Once the delegation arrived, Churko and Thrall shared with the delegation how their studio has seen drastic changes over the last couple of years. As the pandemic slows, people are ready to get back into the studio, but over the last two years, many artists began creating music remotely. Churko also did a quick demonstration of some of the studio’s production tools.
Rowe and Keaz, who have worked together for many years, discussed the struggles of not getting fair compensation and credit for the work they write and produce. This highlighted to members of Congress the importance of passing legislation such as AMFA, so artists will see proper return on their hard work. While Gudwin described the uniqueness of producers being their own employer, while also being an employee, yet lacking any semblance of traditional benefits or job protections.
Following the discussion, Rowe, Gudwin and Keaz surprised the delegation by putting Members of Congress and staff into the recording booth to record vocals.
The next day, the delegation got a behind-the-scenes look at the preparations for the 2022 GRAMMYs telecast to wrap the weekend. The delegation got a firsthand look at how the music industry is more than just the famous faces or voices they know and love, but also made up of countless behind-the-scenes workers who bring crucial expertise to creating successful and memorable performances.