Last week was life-transforming for me. In two days in Washington DC I experienced things that my younger self would never have predicted would be part of my life. For a girl who was always afraid to speak her mind, whether it was at home, at school, or at hobbies, it would have been unthinkable to her that her adult version would ever feel comfortable enough to voice her opinions and story on frickin’ Capitol Hill (!). But that is exactly what happened.
On April 8th, Blake Morgan (founder of ECR Music Group), Tommy Merrill (booking agent extraordinaire at The Press House) and I took the train to the nation’s capital, armed with a book of signatures from over 10,000 musicians and music-lovers. These are people who have heard the message of I Respect Music loud and clear, and want to finally see artists paid for their performances on the radio here in the U.S. 65 days after the launch of our campaign we had generated enough notoriety on the Hill to be able to set up a number of meetings in key congressional offices.
All meetings were energetic and up-beat, much because the tone was set by Blake Morgan, the brilliant and inspiring founder of I Respect Music. But legislators, aides and counselors were equally keen on hearing the thoughts and stories of Tommy Merrill and myself, which felt validating and empowering. I think that the three of us together made a compelling case by giving a face and a name to what must often simply be an abstract issue for lawmakers: artists’ rights.
I am surprised to find the political world that so many of us love to criticize and judge (myself included), so welcoming and attentive to the three of us. We must really have happened upon the right people..! Or perhaps we were the right people? Meetings that often last for 5 minutes, even with high-powered CEOs of large companies, lasted for an hour instead. It’s truly heartening to find that amidst the current chaos and mayhem of the congress there are thoughtful, intelligent and funny people, some of whom have the best interests of artists in mind. These people responded to our uplifting message, and the power of being For something, instead of Against.
This is merely the beginning of a fight that may last for years, who knows. But the door has now been opened for fruitful communication about our issue and that feels–quite frankly–awesome. Us artists have hope, despite the many areas of unfairness that we are dealing with in our profession right now. If we put our minds to it, we can win one fight at a time, despite the overwhelming negative news about our industry. If we advocate for it, we will get to a place where our profession is respected once again. The question that we ask is: “Should an artist be paid for their work?” The answer we got from the people that we met with (Congressmen, counselors, chiefs of staff, etc.) was a resounding yes. We have important people, whose voices count in the highest echelons of the nation, on our side. We simply need to continue preaching to the choir, for that is how we will get them to sing.
Thank you again to all of you who signed our petition, and support us in our fight for artists’ rights. We will continue to make sure your voices are heard.