By Pat Collins
With the oil disaster in the gulf and devastating floods in Middle Tennessee, Spring 2010 has been challenging for Americans and our hearts go out to the victims and to everyone affected by these disasters. As tragic and sad as these events have been, we are left with feelings of hope and inspiration. We’ve seen stranger working side-by-side with stranger, and we’ve seen our community (and the music industry) pulling together with countless telethons, benefits and aid initiatives. Americans have rolled up their sleeves to clean up the mess and make the best of a very bad situation. It’s an ongoing process, and there’s a lot of work left to do. But, in the end, what we’ve all witnessed over the past several weeks makes us proud to be Americans.
In the “show-must-go-on spirit” of our great country, SESAC’s 14th Annual New York Music Awards went ahead as planned on May 12, and it was an event to remember.
Over 400 artists, songwriters, publishers and industry friends packed into Manhattan’s IAC Building to celebrate another great year for SESAC. The big winner was Nate “Danja” Hills, who this year took home Songwriter of the Year and Song of the Year honors (for Keri Hilson’s mega-smash hit “Knock You Down”). Hills’ Danjahandz Muzik was named Publisher of the Year.
Another of the evening’s many highlights was the presentation of the “Inspiration Award” given to artist/songwriter/producer Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean by entertainment icon Russell Simmons. Beatz was recognized for his humanitarian endeavors specifically on “Stranded (Haiti Mon Amour)”, the song he co-wrote and co-produced with U2’s Bono and recorded by the Irish rock singer along with Jay-Z and Rhianna.
One highlight of the evening was the unforgettable performance – by the children’s choir from Manhattan’s’ PS 22 – of “Empire State of Mind.” The song, co-written by award-winning SESAC songwriter Angela Hunte, was a monster hit this year for Jay-Z and Alicia Keys and has gone on to become the un-official theme song for NYC.
In other news, SESAC recently hosted an educational “Bar-B-Q & A” with John Simson, Executive Director of SoundExchange, the non-profit performance rights organization appointed by Congress to pay digital royalties to artists and copyright holders.
Simson outlined the digital copyright distribution process and explained how artists and master rights owners can register for royalties. SoundExchange is collecting those royalties for digital transmissions, including Internet radio, satellite radio, and cable TV music channels, and Simson and company are on a mission to get that money into the hands of musicians and performing artists. SoundExchange recently announced its largest-ever quarterly distribution of $51.7 million, with indie labels claiming their largest portion to date of digital revenues.
The genius of our film and television composers was celebrated at the “SESAC Film & Television Composers Dinner” held at the gorgeous Chaya Beverly Hills. The awards gathering celebrated the composers of music featured in 2009’s biggest films, primetime television shows and cable programming. The festive event commemorated an incredible year for SESAC’s composers.
To accomadate that growing family, and all of our West Coast affliates, SESAC is preparing to move to more spacious LA headquarters. We look forward to inviting all of you to our new West Coast offices.
As always, SESAC will be front and center at a plethora of music conferences, festivals and special events throughout the summer season. Be sure to check www.sesac.com for all news updates!