Editor’s note: The following post has been updated. See the correction at the end for details.
As power becomes more diffuse in Washington, lobbying becomes harder. There are more people you need to see and more territory you have to cover. So it’s a rare trick and quite the accomplishment when a lobbying organization gets those it seeks to lobby to come to them.
Last night, David Israelite, president and chief executive of the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), hosted “An Evening with Steven Tyler.” And by Washington standards, it was an effective encounter. Several Members of Congress attended, including Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Rep. Tom Marino (R-Penn.), Rep. George Holding (R-N.C.), Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.).
And Tyler certainly got everyone’s attention. When he walked onto the rooftop of 101 Constitution Ave., he was greeted like, well, a rock star. And it didn’t end there. Tyler was precisely on-message, plugging the need to protect songwriters and their intellectual property. Between songs, he effortlessly talked about why there should never be “a compulsory license for derivative works.” In his case, that was an applause line before he slid into a perfect rendition of “Dream On.” It was much more effective than any recent congressional testimony that I’ve witnessed.
Anyway, the whole thing reminded me of the two times Michael Jackson came to the White House when I was working there, once under President Reagan and again under President George H. W. Bush. People who prided themselves on being jaded and smug turned giddy as they tried to catch a glimpse of Jackson. While Jackson was there, the whole place came unhinged. Last night was a little like that. Members of Congress and their staff, executive branch staff and many of the usual suspects around town were all groupies. Frankly, it was a little embarrassing seeing all the suits and ties trying to sway and keep time while Tyler performed a few Aerosmith classics with the Capitol Dome as his backdrop.
Part of the reason for last night’s event was a new bill — The Songwriter Equity Act — introduced yesterday by Collins. I would say his bill is off to a pretty good start. Who says Washington can’t come together anymore? In lobbying, all you really want is a fair hearing, perhaps with a friendly disposition. Well, the NMPA got it via Steven Tyler. Not everybody has a Steven Tyler they can roll out, but if you’ve got it, flaunt it.
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Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly quoted Steven Tyler in discussing his view on derivative works. That sentence has been corrected.