Rock the House: GRAMMY Town Hall
Austin Convention Center, Friday, March 17With five congresspersons in the houseâ the Recording Academy showed off some of its muscle for this discussion of the issues it's passionate about. Unfortunately, as with most political gatherings, there seemed to be more rhetoric on the issues than concrete ideas. Among the wide range of topics discussed were the effects of media ownership and consolidation, satellite radio, performance royalties, and broadcast indecency. It took the two artist representatives, producer Jimmy Jam and Asleep at the Wheel's Ray Benson, to break though the speechifying and get specific. Discussing indecency and the continuing uproar over Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction," Jam asserted, "There are a lot more pressing issues for Congress to concern themselves with." When Benson questioned the impact of media consolidation by claiming it can take $1 million for an artist to get commercial radio play, he stressed that "the marketplace won't solve that problem." Michael McCaul (R-Austin), who represents part of Central Texas, praised Austin's KGSR for its dedication to the local music community, but also stood against the idea of satellite radio broadcasting local content, even in the face of its usefulness in the wake of the Katrina disaster. The most important idea of the meeting, which was stressed especially by Charles Gonzalez (D-San Antonio), is that communication with congressional representatives is something to be valued on any level.