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Vince Gill Talks About the Importance of Being “Fair and Kind” in Music Business

Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, and the Grand Ole Opry were honored by the National Music Council over the weekend during the American Eagle Awards. Held in conjunction with NAMM, an annual music industry convention held in Nashville, the awards included guest performers John Conlee and Roy Clark, as well as former Nashville mayor Karl Dean, radio host Bill Cody, and Capitol Records CEO Mike Dungan.

Before the awards ceremony, Vince and Emmylou sat down for a candid conversation about one of the goals of the National Music Council: intellectual property rights. Even though technology has advanced at warp speed, the copyright legislation hasn’t kept up.

“We can solve the majority of problems that we have if we would just treat each other fairly and kind,” said Vince.  “The royalties are based on so long ago that they’re archaic… Are we the only industry that is expected to survive on the same amount of money we got for it 60 years ago?”

So what happens when the money doesn’t come in? The middle class of the music industry suffers. The number of staff songwriters at publishing companies has dwindled significantly over the past 20 years, leaving many creative people out of work.

Songwriters Guild of America President Rick Carnes said,

“I worry about the day when those kids get lost because there’s no creative industry.”

What can be done? The National Music Council also focuses its efforts on music education in schools, including teaching a new generation the value of music recordings and that copying music is actually stealing from the people who created it.

The organization’s American Eagle Awards have honored music industry pioneers like Quincy Jones and Clive Davis in the past and this year’s honorees were no exception.

Mike Dungan presented Vince Gill with his award, citing Vince’s long list of accolades, from GRAMMY to Academy of Country Music awards. Emmylou ribbed Vince with a joking “I hate you!” at their table as Dungan continued to list Gill’s involvement in charitable organizations.

Emmylou Harris was recognized for her profound body of work as a singer and songwriter, and for her collaborations with everyone from Beck to Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Dolly Parton. She’s also involved in numerous charitable organizations from animal rescue to international children’s welfare.

Grand Ole Opry general manager Pete Fisher accepted the award on the Opry’s behalf and Roy Clark (remember him from the television series “Hee Haw”?) closed the ceremony with beautiful rendition of the classic hit “What a Wonderful World.”

Performers Mentioned In This Article

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