'Coalition' and Davis' party fall under one roof

The Recording Academy has brought two activities under its wing that give the 51st annual festivities a different look than previous ones.

Most visibly, the Academy has taken over Clive Davis’ annual night-before shindig and merged it with the Salute to Industry Icons event. More discreetly, the Academy has assumed control of the Recording Artists Coalition, the organization founded by Don Henley and Sheryl Crow to address political issues musicians face.

“It’s natural,” says Neil Portnow, president and CEO of the Recording Academy. Lobbying for artists “is something we have been doing seriously and full time. We have the infrastructure. In a way, I thought about this, thematically at least, in the same way we merged MAP (Music Assistance Program) and MusiCares. It’s relatively modest, but we had a similar mission and a similar constituency. There’s a little difference in structure, but not in theory.”

RAC’s 501(c)(3) tax-exempt registration was closed on Dec. 31, and the org became a program of the Acad through the latter’s nonprofit status. For the first time in its six-year history, RAC has lobbyists, one of whom is Daryl Friedman, the Academy’s VP of advocacy and government relations.

Friedman will oversee the operation, which has made its top priority the Performance Rights Act, a bill to get performers payment when their songs are broadcast on over-the-air radio.

Other issues on the slate include cultural funding, technical issues such as “white space,” Internet neutrality and a tax provision that went into effect Jan. 1 that puts penalties on advances.

“Our side is music creatives,” Friedman says. “RAC did not have substantial staff. We’re getting input from (the organization’s) principals and their board members.”

This weekend, though, eyes will be on the annual Clive Davis party at the Beverly Hilton, where Davis again will bring out stars associated with labels he has overseen. It has been a platform for introducing the entertainment industry to new signings such as Leona Lewis last year. He will be honored by the Academy for his 40-plus years of running record labels such as Columbia, RCA, Arista and J.

The difference this year is that it will fall under the Acad’s purview, giving the Acad three galas, including the MusiCares dinner and concert tonight, and the ball after the Grammy telecast Sunday. The lineup for the Davis party is likely to remain a secret until he takes the stage and introduces the notables in the audience, and the performers.

After this year’s ceremony, though, it is highly likely the Salute to Industry Icons will be a Saturday party replacing the Davis event.

“This is one of those situations where joining forces made sense,” Portnow says. “We don’t consider this a party. It’s an inspirational evening and it has an intrinsic value that is sort of the same thing as our role.

“We want to preserve what’s been great about Clive’s event. Our intention is not to make wholesale changes. Everyone feels Clive has been a great statesman for the industry.”

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