Jan 16 2023

ARTISTS UNDER BOYCOTT – Sanctions Against Russian Artists and Their Work: Their Impact on Artistic Freedom and Other Fundamental Rights

A White Paper from Avant-Garde Lawyers

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has resulted in severe violations of rights guaranteed under international law, the impact of which cannot be overstated. At Avant-Garde Lawyers (AGL), we are in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and are committed to providing specialized support to vulnerable artists on both sides of the border in this geopolitical conflict.

The intensity of suffering and devastation inflicted in the war has brought together communities across the globe in an effort to publicly condemn the use of violence by Russia. In this context, in the fields of arts and culture, a pattern has emerged in which national institutions, international festivals, exhibitions, competitions and orchestras have presented Russian artists with peremptory termination statements informing them of the unilateral revocation of their engagements on account of their nationality. Most of these institutions failed to provide the affected artists with any form of compensation or opportunities to discuss or contest their exclusion. While many stated that their intention was not to penalize individual artists, this is precisely what the exclusions have factually achieved.

Understandably, cultural institutions feel the need to publicly condemn Russia’s actions, but decisions to exclude Russian artists were also taken in an attempt to avoid negative repercussions in the form of economic or reputational loss. Overall, these measures and the way in which they were taken raise concerns about the lack of understanding among cultural institutions of the question of “sanctions” and their negative implications for the affected artists, for the institutions themselves, and more broadly for the freedom of artistic expression.

It is in light of these concerns that we publish this White Paper to provide information and analysis to assist cultural institutions in navigating the complexities of the situation. We do so through the lens of fundamental rights as guaranteed under international law. For us, at AGL, this is an important discussion that must be kickstarted amongst key stakeholders to avoid the further targeting of Russian artists by actions taken to condemn the Russian government. We would also like to sound an alarm to prevent exclusionary measures targeting art and culture from becoming the norm in times of geopolitical conflict. This would serve as a massive blow to artistic freedom at a global level and undermine cultural pluralism and exchange. In a world reverberating with alienation and violence, art must be championed as a universal value to be created, shared and enjoyed without borders.

As lawyers and cultural rights defenders, we encourage debate and discussion on this crucial subject and encourage civil society organizations and cultural institutions to join us so that this conversation can contribute to strengthening the framework in which the core principles of our democracies, those that allow us to express ourselves freely and be free from fear and discrimination, are protected, defended and promoted.

Please click here to read the complete paper.

Andra Matei
Executive Director, Avant-Garde Lawyers

Dec 09 2022

National Music Council Membership Meeting January 19, 2023

National Music Council Membership Meeting

Thursday, January 19th

3:00 EST
BMI Offices
7 World Trade Center | 250 Greenwich Street, New York City

We encourage you to attend in person, but a virtual option via Zoom will be provided

Agenda and Zoom Link to Follow

Dec 05 2022

NMC Mourns the Passing of Bob McGrath

The National Music Council mourns the passing of our longtime friend and colleague, Bob McGrath. If Bob was not the nicest man in show business, he was certainly in the running. His joy in sharing his knowledge, kindness and wonder with the children of the world left an indelible, positive mark on generations of kids who passed through the friendly, musical confines of Sesame Street. It was an honor and a pleasure to know him, and to learn from him. We shall miss him dearly.

Aug 30 2022

A Message From the NMC President and Chair


Dr. James Weaver, President
National Music Council

Charles J. Sanders, Chair
National Music Council

Happy Autumn to all National Music Council members!  We hope you had an enjoyable summer, and are ready to join us in rolling up our sleeves as we launch into a productive fall campaign in support of our many common ideals.

Autumn’s return is traditionally a time for reflection and reevaluation, and we’re happy to report how excited we are concerning the current state and trajectory of NMC.  When we think about our organization today, we are fortunate in these challenging times to remain a vibrant and growing member-based umbrella group, whose members share a wide range of mutual aspirations.  Each of our goals rests upon the laudable motivations of supporting music creation and performance, defending and advocating for creators’ rights, and teaching music throughout the United States and the world.   These are vital contributions to our Nation and the world, and our members are rightfully proud of the work they continue to perform no matter the challenges that may arise.

For the past 82 years and counting, NMC and its members (now numbering over forty national organizations) have successfully advocated for these. principles at the local, state, and national levels, and on a global basis through our active service on the Paris-based International Music Council.   In our last newsletter we spoke to the five music rights identified and developed by the IMC in coordination with our organization and others:

In the pursuit of supporting these complementary rights in the US and across the globe, NMC has recently placed emphasis on educating the American public on the enactment of a new US law known as the CASE Act, the passage of which was supported by NMC.  The Act established a “small claims” system within the US Copyright Office to permit creators and copyright owners to affordably protect their rights against infringers, while maintaining the fair use safeguards developed by American courts over two centuries of copyright practice to protect the speech rights and privileges of educators and users.  This careful balance will be monitored and reported upon by NMC over the coming months and years, to ensure that the highest aspirations of the law are fulfilled and maintained.

NMC will likewise proudly continue its watchdog role in monitoring the suppression of speech that is an ever-present danger to music creators and educators around the world.  The rising, global trend toward authoritarianism in national governance has recently demonstrated the particular vulnerability of outspoken creators to be “made examples of” by repressive regimes seeking to silence commentary and dissent across entire societies.  A vital part of NMC’s mission is to bring such instances to light in ways that offer protection to the targets of censorship, while additionally encouraging the free exchange of ideas (so long as hate speech is not implicated).

Further, NMC as always will be actively advocating for fair remuneration to creators and copyright owners for the use of their works in the US and everywhere in the world.  With such economic protections, as we have witnessed over the centuries, creativity, speech, art and culture flourish.  Without them, the result is often decay and retrogression.

With your help, we look forward to continuing all of this important work — including our online educational panel series– on behalf of our members.  Your active participation in and support of NMC initiatives over the coming year is enthusiastically welcomed!

Once again, Happy Autumn.  As Van Morrison famously wrote, “It’s a marvelous night for a Moondance.”  Let’s get to it!

Jun 08 2022

National Music Council of the United States Presents Progressive Rock Icon, Creators’ Rights Activist and Music Educator David Lowery with the Prestigious American Eagle Award for 2022

Los Angeles, California, June 8, 2022 – On June 2, the National Music Council of the United States presented progressive rock icon, creators’ rights activist and music educator David Lowery with its 2022 American Eagle Award.  NMC is the Congressionally chartered umbrella organization representing virtually all of the most active music industry groups in America, and has bestowed the highly prestigious award just 38 times in its over eight decades of existence.

Mr. Lowery joined the highly exclusive list of music community luminaries to have previously been honored for their career-long histories of truly significant contributions to American musical culture, music education, and the protection and advancement of creators’ rights both in the United States and around the world.  Past honorees have included Steven Sondheim, Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Dave Brubeck, Marian Anderson, Max Roach, Lena Horne, Vince Guaraldi, Roberta Peters, Odetta, Patti Smith, Kris Kristofferson, Sesame Street, and VH1’s “Save the Music” Foundation.

The Award ceremony, which took place at a packed gala dinner at the NAMM Summer 2022 convention in Anaheim, featured remarks by NMC Chair Charles Sanders, Songwriters Guild of America President Rick Carnes and NMC President James Weaver, and a rousing speech and performance by Lowery himself.  Focusing on the need to champion fair compensation for music creators and artists in the 21st century if musical culture is to continue to survive and grow, Lowery stated:

“The foundational myth of Silicon Valley is the garage startup that becomes a global brand.  Well, look at my own startup: Camper Van Beethoven. A few kids in a faded beach town start a band. With a small personal loan from a singing cowboy-true story- we made a record and went from the attic to competing on a global scale in a few short years.

In the 80’s and 90s, this story was replicated, to different degrees, by hundreds of indie rock bands all across the United States. And this story is not unique to the US or rock music.…If Silicon Valley is widely hailed for its entrepreneurial energy and innovation shouldn’t artists and bands also be praised and seen in the same light?  We are certainly as creative.  We generate jobs and substantial economic activity. Some political scientists even think it was really American Pop Music that ended the cold war.  It has always seemed like something worth protecting to me.”

Lowery concluded his remarks by performing his first, satirical hit, “Take the Skinheads Bowling,” which prompted a standing ovation from the appreciative audience of industry professionals and fellow creators.  “Keep fighting for your rights,” he told the crowd.  “You are truly on the right side of history.”

David Lowery’s storied career began while studying mathematics and computer science at the University of California Santa Cruz in the early 1980’s.  It was there that he founded the critically acclaimed ensemble Camper Van Beethoven, and the associated record label Pitch-a-Tent Records.  With these two initiatives, Lowery played a prominent role in launching the global Indie Rock movement.  In 1991, he moved on to the ensemble Cracker, which produced three top ten alternative/rock radio tracks and three platinum albums.  During that period, he also produced a variety of recording artists, including albums for critically acclaimed and commercially successful bands such as The Counting Crows, LP and Sparklehorse.

Today, Lowery continues to be an active songwriter, recording artist, university professor, author and entrepreneur.  He likewise remains dedicated not only to tirelessly fighting for music rights (he organized the class action lawsuit for copyright infringement against Spotify nearly a decade ago), but also to demonstrating to creators that entrepreneurial alternatives to Silicon Valley-based music distribution of music are available to counter the current, grossly unfair payment practices of the tech giants.

May 27 2022

National Music Council to Honor Musician, Songwriter and Music Advocate David Lowery at 38th Annual American Eagle Awards

Los Angeles, California, May 27, 2022 – The National Music Council of the United States will honor musician, songwriter, journalist, blogger, producer, and rights activist David Lowery at its 38th annual American Eagle Awards on Thursday, June 2, 2022 at the NAMM Show in Anaheim, California.  The NMC honors are presented each year in recognition of those who have made a truly significant contribution to American musical culture, music education, and the protection and advancement of creators’ rights both in the United States and around the world.

“For honored individuals, the American Eagle Award represents a very special category of peer recognition, celebrating a lifetime of dedicated work on behalf of music creators, music students, and the entire music community,” says NMC Board Chair Charles J. Sanders.  “David Lowery is among those rare persons whose careers have personified that level of across-the-board commitment to his colleagues and followers everywhere in the world.”  Adds NMC president and music education leader James Weaver, “we could not be prouder to honor Professor Lowery, a great and influential music creator who has demonstrated time and again his additional devotion to advocating for universal musical education for every child in every nation.”

David Lowery’s storied career began while studying mathematics and computer science at the University of California Santa Cruz in the early 1980’s.  It was there that he founded the critically acclaimed ensemble Camper Van Beethoven, and the associated record label Pitch-a-Tent Records.  With these two initiatives, Lowery played a prominent role in launching the global Indie Rock movement.  In 1991, he moved on to the ensemble Cracker, which produced three top ten alternative/rock radio tracks and three platinum albums.  During that period, he also produced a variety of recording artists, including albums for critically acclaimed and commercially successful bands such as The Counting Crows, LP and Sparklehorse.

Today, Lowery continues to be an active songwriter, recording artist, university professor, author and entrepreneur.  He likewise remains dedicated not only to tirelessly championing music rights, but also to demonstrating to creators that entrepreneurial alternatives to Silicon Valley-based music distribution of music are available to counter the current, grossly unfair payment practices of the Tech giants.  “David Lowery has been a leading voice for decades on issues concerning fair remuneration for artists, songwriters and composers,” states NMC board member Rick Carnes, president of the Songwriters Guild of America and a leading songwriter and global activist for creators’ rights himself.  “It will be my great pleasure to present him with this honor, which he has earned through his longstanding, courageous advocacy — on Capitol Hill, in the courts and in print — on behalf of American creators and musical culture.”

NMC executive director Dr. David Sanders notes that Mr. Lowery  joins a “who’s – who” of American musical giants whose have previously been honored by NMC.  “Let me put into perspective the significance of the Eagle Award by reciting the names of just a few of the past honorees,” says Sanders,. “They include Stephen Sondheim, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Dizzy Gillespie, Dr. Billy Taylor, Morton Gould, Dave Brubeck, Marian Anderson, Max Roach, Lena Horne, Roy Clark, Crystal Gale, George Clinton, Ervin Drake, Theodore Bikel, Vince Guaraldi, Roberta Peters, Odetta, Patti Smith, Sesame Street, and VH1’s “Save the Music” Foundation.

Tickets for this event are available to the general public. For more information on schedule, location details, tickets, and sponsorship opportunities, visit www.musiccouncil.org or contact NMC Director David Sanders at sandersd@montclair.edu.

Proceeds from the event support the National Music Council’s music education advocacy efforts.

The National Music Council

The Congressionally-chartered National Music Council is celebrating its 82nd year as a forum for the free discussion of this country’s national music affairs and challenges. Founded in 1940 to act as a clearinghouse for the joint opinions of its members –and to work to strengthen the importance of music in our lives and culture– the Council’s initial membership of 13 has grown to almost 50 national music organizations, encompassing every important form of professional and commercial musical activity. Through the cooperative work of its member organizations, the National Music Council promotes and supports music and music education as an integral part of the curricula in the schools of our nation, and in the lives of its citizens. The Council provides for the exchange of information and coordination of efforts among its member organizations and speaks with one voice for the music community whenever an authoritative expression of opinion is desirable. www.musiccouncil.org

NAMM

The NAMM Show is the global gathering of the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) and its many member companies, representing the global music products industry, including music instruments and pro audio products, music retailers and educators and house of worship professionals. The awards are presented with support from The NAMM Foundation, a non-profit which works to advance active participation in music making across the lifespan through scientific research, philanthropic giving and public service programs.

Apr 05 2022

U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona Calls on States, Districts, & Higher Ed Institutions to Address Nationwide Teacher Shortage & Bolster Student Recovery with American Rescue Plan Funds.

The National Music Council applauds US Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on his call to use American Rescue Plan funds to bolster student recovery. NMC encourages states, districts and higher education institutions to make music and the arts a big part of this effort!

Mar 28 2022

New World Trade Agreement Will Continue to Protect Music Creators

The National Music Council of the United States, along with its music community colleagues, is extremely gratified that its efforts to curb the illegitimate expansion of the fair use doctrine in various foreign nations during the global pandemic have met with success! The United States Trade Representative and the Biden Administration has heard our voices, and responded by ensuring that while massive global efforts to fight COVID-19 must and will continue unabated and at full speed, those actions cannot be permitted to lead to the gutting of global copyright protections for no valid reason.

Final wording of the joint agreement, which further delineates Covid-19 exemptions to the TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) Agreement of the World Trade Organization (WTO), are still being worked out. The Trips Agreement establishes minimum standards of protection that each government has to give to the IP of fellow WTO members. The new agreement will continue to narrowly define Covid-based, fair-use exemptions for unauthorized copyright uses, consistent with the strict, general limits currently in place.

Mar 14 2022

The NMC Pandemic Memory Database

JOIN US IN CREATING A HISTORIC DATABASE OF
PANDEMIC EXPERIENCES IN THE MUSIC COMMUNITY

The US and global music communities have suffered through two difficult years of a viral pandemic that took the lives of nearly a million of our fellow Americans, well over five million lives worldwide, and crushed the livelihoods of tens of millions more.  As we know, with a music economy based upon live performance and socially close collaboration among creators, educators and business people, our industry was affected far more than most.

Now that the storm seems to be receding, it’s time to take stock.  Just as in the aftermath of the 9-11 tragedy, our stories of survival and perseverance are the best gifts we can give to future generations.  That is why the non-profit, Congressionally-chartered National Music Council of the United States is launching the NMC Pandemic Memory Database project – a collection of first-hand video, audio, and written accounts of the experiences of music community members – focused on what we felt, how we reacted, what worked, what didn’t, and how we move forward. It is our hope that this historical record will serve as a blueprint for future generations to better cope with similar emergencies, drawing knowledge, inspiration and wisdom from our shared experiences and reflections.

Please join us in the simple process of video recording, audio recording, or writing your own stories and experiences of the pandemic and its effects on your music, your music career, and your lifetime musical aspirations.  Then have YOUR STORY become an important part of the NMC Pandemic Memory Database.  You may even do so anonymously, if you wish.
Only through our efforts can we forge a better future for those who follow us on the musical path.

How to Submit:

Record your message (preferred formats: mp3, mp4, or .mov), or write your story/experience, and then visit https://app.upmetrics.com/data_collector/cl0q0gb6dcstv0854ogbkuak9 to upload your Pandemic Memory contribution.


Pandemic Reflections Prompt Questions

For Music Educators

  • How would you characterize your initial responses to the pandemic as to its effect on your professional life, and how did your coping skills evolve over time?
  • What did you find to be your best methods for maintaining professional standards and teaching success during the pandemic, and how do you intend to use such knowledge and skills in the future?
  • What pandemic-related struggles do you still contend with, and what resources would help to mitigate those issues?
  • What was an unexpected surprise/success story you experienced in a virtual or hybrid educational setting?
  • What methods have you found work for maintaining your own mental health and your ability to stay grounded?
  • What advice do you have for new educators facing similar global health emergencies in the future?
  •  


     
    For Music Industry

  • How would you characterize your initial responses to the pandemic as to its effect on your professional life, and how did your coping skills evolve over time in continuing to run your “small business?”
  • What changed and what stayed the same regarding your professional life in the music community?
  • What strengths of yours and your organization made the pandemic survivable?
  • Is your business/organization/career stronger now than it was before the pandemic?
  • What knowledge set you up well to deal with the pandemic, and what issues did you feel unprepared to handle?
  •  


     
    For Live Performers

  • How would you characterize your initial responses to the pandemic as to its effect on your professional life, and how did your coping skills evolve over time in continuing to run your “small business?”
  • What is your reflection on what live music means to all of us individually and to society as a whole?
  • What was it like touring during COVID in the bubble?
  • Tell us about the vulnerability that you see in yourself, in your colleagues, and your students when it comes to coping with society-wide emergencies such as a global pandemic.
  • What was the isolation from performing like for you and your colleagues?
  • Did the coping skills you gained open the gate for students or professional performers to put forward new, music-related initiatives (virtually)?
  • Do you see any more roadblocks moving forward?
  • What did you see was the overall impact to performing?
  • How, in particular, did classical music performers adopt to social media?
  •  


     
    For Music Creators

  • How would you characterize your initial responses to the pandemic as to its effect on your professional life, and how did your coping skills evolve over time in continuing to run your “small business?”
  • How did you manage to write, demo and shop songs during the pandemic?
  • Was it an easy task to maintain your creative demo output in small personal studios?
  • Did you stockpile material during the pandemic?
  • Were you able to self-release?
  • Did you find the people in your music collective were more productive bringing you songs since that is what they focused on during the pandemic?
  • Has there been anxiety connected with re-entering a “face-to-face” system of creativity?
  • Mar 08 2022

    THE NATIONAL MUSIC COUNCIL OF THE UNITED STATES ANNOUNCES AN HISTORIC VIRTUAL SYMPOSIUM REFLECTING ON THE TWO-YEAR IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON THE MUSIC COMMUNITY

    U.S. Music Leaders to Present “Pandemic Reflections on The Future of Music: Education, Creation, Performance and Business” Public Education Webinar on Monday, March 14, 2022.

    2022, the Second Anniversary of the US Covid-19 Shutdown

    (Tuesday, March 8, 2022 New York, NY) The National Music Council of the United States (“the NMC”) announced today a symposium marking the second anniversary of the nation’s initial Covid-19 shutdown.

    This symposium, “Pandemic Reflections on The Future of Music: Education, Creation, Performance and Business,” will be presented by music leaders from all facets of education and industry who will discuss the pandemic’s profound and lasting impact on all who value this vital human resource. The online event will take place Monday, March 14, 2022 6:30-9:30 PM EST.

    The NMC has tapped notable industry experts from these four facets of music in American life, work and society to speak of their direct experiences creating, working, and teaching at a time of global health crisis and isolation.

    Leading the Music Education panel will be Dr. James Weaver, Director of Performing Arts and Sports for the National Federation of High School State Associations (NFHS) with Chris Woodside, Executive Director of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME). This panel will focus on the challenges and opportunities that were created during the past two years and where music education is heading next. The panel will feature leading music educators and administrators from around the country.

    Deirdre Chadwick, Executive Director of BMI Classical and President of the BMI Foundation, will lead the Music Industry panel of prominent business leaders who observed and felt the effects on the music supply chain firsthand.

    Dan Beck, now serving as Trustee of the recording industry’s Music Performance Trust Fund and former record label executive, will host the Live Performance panel in the context of noting the multi-billion-dollar impact on live touring professionals and related community industries.

    Nina Ossoff, a multi-genre and multi-platinum professional songwriter, will lead the Music Creators panel as they discuss how the pandemic impacted their creativity and livelihoods.

    International music copyright attorney and NMC board chair Charlie Sanders will host the event. According to Sanders, “All of us in the music community have just come through a challenging two-year period of physical isolation from one another. During that time, even as we witnessed and

    perhaps experienced illness-based tragedies, we also succeeded in finding innovative ways to continue creating, interacting, teaching and earning under some of the most difficult circumstances in music history. It now falls to us to analyze and preserve what we have learned and experienced – both the good and the bad. The National Music Council believes that establishing an archive of recollections regarding this period of struggle will be of enormous value to future generations.”

    Admission is free to attend the symposium, however registration is encouraged.

    Read more about the event and all panelists and register to attend by visiting this page or navigating to musiccouncil.org.

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    About the National Music Council of the United States: Founded in 1940 and chartered by the 84th United States Congress in 1956, the NMC brings its support of music education beyond national borders through its participation in the International Music Council of UNESCO, representing the United States at the IMC General Assembly. The NMC acts as a clearing house for the joint opinion and decision of its members and is dedicated to strengthening the importance of music in our life and culture. Interested parties may learn more at https://www.musiccouncil.org/.

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