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John Mellencamp: If Music Was Protected Online Like TV, ‘We Would Be in Better Shape’

John Mellencamp and Walk The Moon received the night’s biggest honors at the 33rd annual ASCAP Pop Music Awards, presented by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, at the Loews Hollywood Hotel on Wednesday in Los Angeles.

The invitation-only event, which celebrates the best in music songwriting and publishing, brought out Ne-Yo, Max Martin, Poo Bear, Dave Bassett and more for an evening of fine dining and musical performances.

“I never thought about being a songwriter,” said Mellencamp, accepting the ASCAP Founders Award. “So, when I got a record deal I thought I was just going to sing and they said: ‘No you got to write songs.'”

“Good thing for me back then there was a thing called artist development, where an artist could find himself and his voice,” the honoree added.

Mellencamp also used the stage to confront the changes in the music industry in the past few years, particularly “search engines giving away our music.”

“If we would have treated search engines the same way we treat NBC and CBS, and they had to follow the FCC rules, we would all be in better shape as a community, as a business, and be able to develop young songwriters and young singers, and still have record companies and record sales,” he said. “But, I don’t think it’s too late for that.”

Walk The Moon accepted the Vanguard Award, which gave the band recognition for “Song of the Year” for its hit “Shut Up and Dance.” The group attributed the success of the song to its “rock and roll and throwback” vibe, which the members said was not on the radio at the time.

Other big winners of the night included Martin, who was honored as the Songwriter of the Year for his work with Ellie Goulding, The Weeknd, Taylor Swift and others; Warner/Chappell received the award for Publisher of the Year, and BMG was honored with the award for Independent Publisher of the Year. Martin is the only songwriter in history to win the songwriter prize nine times.

Performances of the night included OMI, who sang “Cheerleader,” as well as Audra Mae, who performed “Heartbeat Song” by Kelly Clarkson. Additionally, Priscilla Renea gave a stirring performance of “Purple Rain” in honor of Prince and other musicians who passed this year.

ASCAP will continue its celebration of music in Los Angeles with the ASCAP Expo, which runs through April 30.

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