Grammys Go Political

President Obama isn’t the only one doing town hall meetings these days. John Conyers, the Michigan Democrat and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, was in Los Angeles Friday night for the Grammy Town Hall Meeting. Conyers warned the crowd that there would be “a serious struggle” in Congress this year over whether to force […]

President Obama isn’t the only one doing town hall meetings these days.

John Conyers, the Michigan Democrat and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, was in Los Angeles Friday night for the Grammy Town Hall Meeting. Conyers warned the crowd that there would be “a serious struggle” in Congress this year over whether to force FM and AM radio stations to pay musicians a performance fee, as cable and satellite radio already do. The reason for Conyers’ concern: the powerful National Assn. of Broadcasters opposes what it calls a tax, arguing that the music industry – already reeling from the impact of online downloading –is trying to recoup its losses on the backs of broadcasters.

Then Sunday night, Recording Academy CEO Neil Portnow plugged the performance rights legislation in his speech at the Grammy Awards. Noting that President Obama is a Grammy winner – for the audio recording of his book “The Audacity of Hope” – Portnow parroted the president’s famous campaign slogan to pitch for the performance fee.

“When it comes to protecting a musician's intellectual property and the right to earn a living," he said, "The Academy says, 'Yes, we can!'"

The beat goes on, as they say, and this one is likely to stay hot all year.