Grammys on the Hill takes aim at AI, honors Cornyn and Klubuchar

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The Grammys on the Hill took aim at AI in the arts during its annual ceremony on Tuesday, in which is also honored Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) for their work protecting musical artists.

The event, part of the “biggest week for music in Washington,” saw lawmakers sing hymns, applaud, crack jokes and tell stories as the Recording Academy, a music industry lobbying group, celebrated their legislative accomplishments.

Cornyn, who is pushing legislation to crack down on predatory ticketing practices, said Congress needs to come together “to protect America’s vibrant live music scene.”

“What I love about music is that it’s a universal language that connects people to each other, across borders, across boundaries,” Cornyn said.

“This bill takes the power out of the hands of the bots, the bad actors, and puts it back in the hands of the people that make live shows so special,” he said.

Klobuchar is among the sponsors of the NO FAKES Act, which requires artists and recording labels to give consent before AI is used to reproduce their voices, and the right to compensation from the resulting recordings.

When receiving her award, Klobuchar took a playful jab her colleagues.

“Congress is so different from the Recording Academy, one is full of major egos competing for the spotlight, and the other is the Recording Academy,” Klobuchar quipped.

“Artists have a right to their own voices and their own material,” she said. “I say to all of my colleagues that aren’t in this room: please heed this call, don’t stand in the doorway, don’t block up the hall.”

The lawmaker duo has previously worked together to pass the Save Our Stages Act, which provided $1.6 billion for faltering entertainment venues during the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds represent the largest government support ever provided to the industry.

The rapidly evolving relationship between AI and art, however, was on the lips of every artist at the venue.

Pop icon Sheryl Crow was honored for her activism and urged action to put “guardrails” on AI.

The “All I Wanna Do” singer said ahead of a tumultuous election, the health of the arts is a bipartisan issue.

“Coming to the table, all of us, whether you support Donald Trump, Joe Biden, RFK or even if you don’t support anybody… we need to create programs as opposed to stifling each other, and I don’t know if that’s what’s happening in our nation right now,” Crow told The Hill.

In her new song “Evolution,” which she performed at the event, Crow sings about hearing her own “hauntingly” familiar, spoofed voice on the radio — “so familiar I thought it was a joke,” she says.

Describing the anxieties of AI mimicry, Crow said that “right now, it would really be a gift to feel the urgency on both sides of the aisle to feel the need to protect what’s truly representative of all people: art.”

Earlier in the day, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federal of Television and Radio Arts (SAG-AFTRA), which represents all artists who attended Grammys on the Hill, urged the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property to pass the NO FAKES Act.

The bill is sponsored by Klobuchar and Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.)

SAG-AFTRA led a 148 day strike in Hollywood last year, with protections against AI being a major sticking point in negotiations with studios.

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, national executive director of SAG-AFTRA, told the subcommittee that despite union victories in those talks, creators “cannot control what others do with AI generated digital replicas of them and cannot successfully demand compensation for that use.”

“These protections are co-sponsored by two Republican and two Democratic Senators — there is definitely a spirit of bipartisanship,” Crabtree-Ireland told The Hill.

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