AMP Act To Deliver Fair Pay For Producers, Engineers

By Strother Bullins. Approximately two months ago, US Congressmen Joe Crowley (DNY) and Tom Rooney (R-FL) introduced the Allocation for Music Producers Act, or AMP Act (H.R. 1457) on Capitol Hill. The components of the bill largely came together through careful planning by the Producers & Engineers Wing’s Steering Committee of The Recording Academy. Most notably, it marks the first time a bill has been designed to address the needs of studio professionals.
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WASHINGTON, DC—Approximately two months ago, US Congressmen Joe Crowley (DNY) and Tom Rooney (R-FL) introduced the Allocation for Music Producers Act, or AMP Act (H.R. 1457) on Capitol Hill. The components of the bill largely came together through careful planning by the Producers & Engineers Wing’s Steering Committee of The Recording Academy. Most notably, it marks the first time a bill has been designed to address the needs of studio professionals.

A bevy of P&E Wing pros visit Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (fourth from left) on Capitol Hill. “This is the first time in American history that producers and engineers have been mentioned in law,” says Daryl P. Friedman, the chief advocacy and industry relations officer for The Recording Academy. The Washington DC-based Friedman serves as a liaison for relevant music industry concerns to the US federal government; he’s been a key mover of the act through the complexities of Washington legislation. “In some ways, it’s a historic stamp of approval by Congress of their critical role in the creation process and how they deserve rights and laws just as songwriters do. Combine this with the transition to a digital marketplace and the emphasis on copyright, and Congress is starting to get a real handle on the implications to creators [of largely digitally distributed intellectual property] and the need to protect creators to keep the music coming.”

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There are two key components of the AMP Act, both of which involve the gracious participation of nonprofit SoundExchange, the industry’s sole entity that collects and distributes digital performance royalties for artists. “The first part is ensuring that an artist can direct the royalty to the producer or engineer for contract, but making sure that it is a right of the producer, with the producer getting paid directly from SoundExchange, which is putting the money directly into the pockets of studio professionals. If that weren’t the case, it would be on the producer to try to collect from the artist directly after the artist has been paid—very difficult to do, not to mention uncomfortable for a lot of relationships. It’s much better to have the money paid directly to producer and engineer. SoundExchange—or any other collective, for that matter— would have to pay producers directly. This is the main part of the AMP Act going forward.”

The second component of the AMP Act assures some level of digital performance royalties prior to SoundExchange’s existence, he said: “Anything prior to 1995—before the system was in place and where artists could direct SoundExchange to pay the producer—the producer wouldn’t get paid anything unless they went back to the artist to try to get a letter of direction. The second thing the AMP Act does is provide a mechanism for the producer to get some small piece of royalty for these older works, even if they can’t get an answer from the artists themselves to authorize it. It provides a way for the producer to apply to SoundExchange to receive a portion of pre-1995 royalties. Combining these two things, you have a mechanism for producers getting paid more accurately, quickly and directly, and on top of that, you have the stamp of approval from Congress, that producers and engineers are an important part of the creation process and have their rights embedded in law.

“Thanks to the work of the Producers & Engineers Wing, Congress has been substantially educated on the role of producers and engineers,” concludes Friedman. “For the last 10 years, we’ve tried to educate the members of Congress on the process, even bringing some high-profile producers to Washington as part of an educational day on Capitol Hill. We also had members of Congress who play instruments at a studio and had professional producers record the track. They know they’re amateurs, but experiencing that studio session in progress, and hearing the resulting recording that was professionally produced, it really hit home how much of a role the producer plays in the creation process. The AMP Act is the result of all these efforts.”

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