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Grammy millionaires unite to lobby Washington for better pay

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The Creators Project activist group takes aim at streaming services

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

A cabal of musicians has joined forces to form a pressure group designed to lobby for fair pay for artists. The group, called the Creators Alliance, was introduced by the current head of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Neil Portnow, at tonight's Grammy awards. Appearing on stage in front of assorted millionaires, Portnow took aim at streaming services such as Spotify, calling for attendees and viewers to "remember that music matters in our lives, and that new technology must pay artists fairly."

The Creators Alliance wants "fair pay across all platforms."

He was joined on stage by Grammy-winner Jennifer Hudson, a founding member of the advocacy group that also includes Alicia Keys, Maroon 5's Adam Levine, deadmau5, and Lady Antebellum. OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder, also a supporter of the alliance, referenced Taylor Swift's recent spat with Spotify, a butting of heads that saw the pop megastar remove her albums from the streaming service.

To prove his point, Portnow posited an extreme future where everyone gives up making music because there's not enough money in the music industry. "What if we're all watching the Grammys a few years from now," he said, "and there's no Best New Artist award because there aren't enough talented artists and songwriters who are actually able to make a living from their craft?" To Portnow, Swift, and a host of other stars who have railed against services such as Spotify, the growth of streaming is an undiluted negative to the music industry that takes money from artists' pockets. Spotify itself has pushed back, arguing that streaming is helping musicians at all levels. The economics behind the industry are complex enough to make any clear pronouncement difficult.

The campaign says it will work to secure fair pay for artists across all platforms, but is vague on how it will go about doing so, beyond offering an "amplified voice." Tedder joined Portnow in pressuring music fans to get involved in the campaign. "With all the changes in how we listen to music and the review of copyright laws which are set by Congress," the singer said, "music creators and fans must speak out NOW." Fans who did so, using the suggested #GrammyAlliance hashtag, weren't immediately convinced of the need for a lobbying group working to restrict streaming services and maintain the status quo in a bloated industry that has proven itself to be painfully slow in catching up to technological advances.