As Taylor Swift urges the House Judiciary Committee for reform to musicians' compensation laws, SoundExchange, a major player in the contentious battle, has whisked several congressional staff away to Cleveland to promote the popular musician's cause.
SoundExchange — a non-profit that distributes royalties to record labels, artists and other music-copyright holders — funded the trip last month.
The music industry perennially advocates for updated copyright laws that would reform industry compensation, particularly for online streaming websites and applications. The controversial battle pits record labels, performers and other music creators against distributors such as Pandora, Spotify and the National Association of Broadcasters.
The effort to reach out congressional staff comes as distributions to copyright holders slow, growing by less than four percent last year, far behind the double-digit increases that the company experienced in prior years. As of that year, the company reportedly represented 8.4 percent of all U.S. music-industry revenues.
In Cleveland, staffers visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, attending a presentation on a SoundExchange-sponsored exhibit, "Louder Than Words: Rock, Politics and Power." They also attended briefings on copyright policy and the music ecosystem, including sessions on independent music labels, "the importance of legacy artists" and SoundExchange's history and future.
The following staffers took part in the two-day trip:
- Joel Scott Richard, legislative assistant/counsel to Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.)
- Bobby Cornett, legislative director to Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.)
- Lisette Morton, legislative director to Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.)
- Shelley Husband, chief of staff and general counsel to Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.)
- David Greengrass, intellectual property counsel to Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.)
- Ashli Palmer, policy director to Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.)
With the exception of Clyburn, who belongs to the House leadership, all members listed serve on the House Judiciary Committee, which handles intellectual property issues.
SoundExchange's disclosure form also listed Brendan Belair, chief of staff to Doug Collins (R-Ga.), as attending the trip, although a disclosure has not yet been released for him.