Almost twenty years ago, my colleagues in the production music business encouraged me to run for a seat on the ASCAP Board of Directors. In fact, they not only encouraged me, they gave me some seed money to run a real campaign: postcards, letters, videos, the works! No one had ever really "campaigned" for a seat on the Board before, and few outsiders like me had ever been elected. But I was lucky enough to win a seat.
It has been a privilege and a unique opportunity for me to serve on the ASCAP Board. It's hard work and requires quite a bit of time, energy and engagement. The stakes are high, because the decisions the Board makes affect peoples lives in a very direct and fundamental way. So it's critical that Board members really understand the issues and think about their impact on music creators across the spectrum.
ASCAP is one of the best organizations that music creators have ever devised, and it serves as a bulwark against the shifting sands and rough waters of the music industry. It's home to more than a half million writers and publishers. And for an organization that processes a billion dollars a year, it's pretty nimble and adaptive. But there are legal and practical limits to what ASCAP can do.
So in addition to my service on the Board, I recently helped organize the Council of Music Creators (CMC), a non-profit organization that serves as a pure voice for music creators of all kinds. We're proudly independent, not funded by industry folks, and not afraid to speak out on the issues of the day.
CMC’s online advocacy campaign is called Music Answers. It's a grassroots initiative, designed to help music creators understand the issues that face them, and learn how they can get involved in protecting their own careers and those of the next generation. The website includes reports, articles, and several short informational videos I made that cover various aspects of the industry and the issues we're facing.
Music creators can't just write music any more. We need to understand how the business works, where our particular talents and skills fit in, and how we can protect ourselves and fellow writers. We can't just hope that everything will work out the way we want. We have to get out and push, along with everyone else who values creativity.
I think most writers understand this. It's getting harder and harder to make a living in music, and the anti-copyright folks are suiting up for a battle against us. The decisions that get made in the next few years will determine how the music industry works for the next fifty.
So I'm running again for a seat on the ASCAP Board. Ballots go out in February. If you're an ASCAP member, please make sure you vote. If you know someone who's a member, I hope you will encourage them to vote too, and vote only for the candidates they know and support. Thank you.