Five Questions with Daryl Friedman, Chief Industry, Goverment & Member Relations Officer of the Recording Academy

Daryl Friedman

This week we would like you to meet Daryl Friedman, Chief Industry, Government & Member Relations Officer of the Recording Academy.

1. Explain what your organization does and your role within the organization.

The Recording Academy™ is an organization that exists to champion the voices of performers, songwriters, producers, and engineers. With no corporate members, the Recording Academy directly and solely represents music creators, working to protect their rights and interests.

From strong representation in Washington, to mobilizing the industry and organizing grassroots movements across all 50 states, we use advocacy, education, and dialogue to raise awareness about pressing music issues, develop policy, and advance key legislation. Our purpose is to give back to music makers by making sure that they are compensated fairly for their work today and have greater opportunities to prosper tomorrow.

As Chief Industry, Government and Member Relations Officer, my role is to build bridges between music creators and their government representatives, effectively communicating their concerns and demonstrating the importance of music to our society. I also work closely with like-minded organizations to advance shared goals that will benefit our membership and lead to a stronger, more sustainable future for the industry.

2. What is your (and your organization’s) interest in copyright law? How does your organization and/or its constituents rely on copyright law to support their livelihoods?

Copyright law is at the core of how each of our members is able to make a living and support both themselves and their families. From the very inception of a song to the final recorded track, copyright exists to ensure that the hard work of creators is rewarded and also protected.

Unfortunately, portions of copyright law have failed to keep pace with changes in the music industry, leading to below market value payments, lack of recognition for key creators, and in some cases even a lack of payment altogether as corporations abuse long-standing loopholes.

3. What is the most important copyright issue before your members right now?

Without question it’s passing the Music Modernization Act, introduced recently by Chairman Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Ranking Member Nadler (D-N.Y.). This is a comprehensive and bipartisan bill that is the result of five years of hard-work, hearings and stakeholder input, and it truly modernizes the entire music industry for the 21st century. We have to see it across the finish line this year.

As mentioned, our members represent all types of music creators, and what’s essential to the MMA is it has something for each of them. When we first thought of how to pass music reform, we knew we had to do it comprehensively so that all creators benefit—not just songwriters, not just artists, but all involved in the creation of music. And that’s what this bill delivers.

When it is passed, we’re going to see better, fairer, market-based pay for artists and songwriters. We’re going to ensure mechanical royalties are paid to songwriters when their songs are played on digital services. We’re going to pay our legacy artists royalties for their works released before 1972. And we’re going to recognize our studio professionals in copyright law for the first time, giving them much needed protections and guarantees to collect royalties. The Music Modernization Act is a win-win for all the stakeholders involved in the creation and performance of music, and when we get it passed we will be beginning a new era—a fair era—for music creators.

4. Music Copyright is complicated, with many rights implicated in a single track. Is there a way to simplify music licensing?

For all rights and structures involved in music licensing, at its core, we should all support a very simple premise: fair market pay for all music creators on all platforms. After years of industry segments looking at narrow and discrete fixes, we are now looking at the big picture. This is something we first advocated in 2014 at our GRAMMYs on the Hill event. If the government must be involved in setting rates , then they should at least be setting rates comparable to what the free market would provide. For the first time in a generation, we appear to be close to achieving this vision.

5. This isn’t the first time that Congress has looked at music licensing reform. What makes 2018 different than previous years?

The message from lawmakers has been clear—congressional leaders have told us that the best way to pass music legislation is for all the different stakeholders in the music community to unite and work together toward a common goal. The Recording Academy has been leading our community towards consensus since 2014 and we’ve answered the call from Congress. Over 20 different music organizations have now embraced the comprehensive approach of the Music Modernization Act. Working together, we’re confident that we’ll be able to reach the finish line this year.

Are you one of our Individual Creator Members? Participate in our Creator Spotlight series! Please email us at And if you aren’t already a member of the Alliance, you can join today by completing our Individual Creator Members membership form!

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