1992 - MusiCares: An Industry Imperative by Michael Greene
Former Grammy president Michael Greene talks about MusiCares, a program created as a safety net for musicians and other artists going through hard times. It includes a financial assistance program, health care coverage, an outreach campaign, and The Capital which will raise funds for MusiCares programs.
T WAS LATE ONE COLD CHRISTMAS Eve in a rural suburb of Atlanta when my father arose from his chair to answer a knock at our back door. My dad was a big- band leader, and his musicians were my heros. I was around seven years old and had spent the evening praying that the morning light would re- veal that Santa indeed was real and had not forgot- ten my new trap set. As my father moved toward the door, I darted MUSICARES behind the table to eavesdrop on this mysterious late-night caller. It was one of my dad's musicians who had stopped playing a few years earlier due to health problems. He looked terrible and ap- An parently had no money for Christmas presents for his children. Industry In that moment my world froze in time. I slowly rose to my feet from my hiding place Imperative and, without realizing it, stared squarely into the face of one of our industry's most dia- bolical realities-be- ing a musician means you are on your own, with no guarantees. As big bands and BY MICHAEL GREENE live orchestras lost popular favor, this scenario President, The Recording Academy became more commonplace at our house. My father's band got older, the large venues began drying up, and the marketplace dictated that the group reduce in size and their jobs became week- end gigs only. My musical mentors and adopted uncles struggled to survive and many were stripped of their dignity. What a tragic price to pay for developing and pursuing gifts of talent. The fact was then, and remains today,that artists in our society are not truly valued, nor has anyone ever bothered to establish an infrastructure to provide them with the most basic of human considerations. This tradition of industry indifference was the driving union, guild and foundation service providers. The force behind the creation of MusiCares. directory contains each organization's purpose, MusiCares is not a Recording Academy pro- office address and contact numbers in all cities. gram as much as it is a mission that our organization Eligibility requirements and services are also out- has developed to give hope to those who pursue our lined for quick reference. It is our hope that very independent preoccupation that basic human through access to this information applicants will services will be available when they inevitably need learn more about each organization and be better them. able to identity their options during a period of The MusiCares program is currently directing crisis. its efforts in five basic directions. Directory participants include: Actor's Equity Association; The Actor's Fund of America; FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM AIDS Healthcare Foundation; American In an effort to promote the welfare of all music Federation ofT elevision & Radio Artists; American professionals, MusiCares has initiated its Financial Guild of Variety Artists; Hispanic Musicians Asso- Assistance Grant Program, a special emergency ciation; Hollywood Helps; Jazz Foundation of assistance fund for music professionals who find America; Motion Picture and Television Fund; themselves in need of financial assistance, sub- stance-abuse treatment programs and other basic necessities . "WITHOUT REALIZING I T, I In order to determine an applicant's eligibility, a financial assistance application form is completed STARED SQUARELY INTO THE FACE and submitted to either the NARAS National or nearest Chapter office. Applications are processed OF ON E 0 F OU R INDUSTRY'S MOST and screened by the MusiCares Eligibility Com- mittee at the NARAS Foundation. All inquiries and DIABOLICAL REALITIES-BEING A assistance remain totally confidential. The real need for this aspect of MusiCares was MUSICIAN MEANS YOU ARE 0 N YOUR recently dramatized by the tragedy that engulfed big-band leader and jazz legend Woody Herman OWN, WITH NO GUARANTEES." during the last years of his life. In addition to combating serious health problems, Woody was forced to deal with a number of financial difficul- the NARAS Foundation; Musicians Union, ties. Shortly before his death in late 1987, he was Local 802; National Jazz Service Organization; penniless and fighting eviction from his lifelong The Rhythm & Blues Foundation; Screen Actors home, which was averted only because of an out- Guild Foundation and Society of Singers. pouring of public affection and charity. ARAS NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE CAMPAIGN now administers a special financial assistance pro- gram in Woody's name to specifically help deserv- Within the next six months, MusiCares will be ing jazz musicians in their time of need. offering the music industry's first National Self- Paid Insurance program. During times of medical DIRECTORY OF HUMAN RESOURCES or personal hardship, steady work is the first Many musicians are eligible for insurance and casualty in our business. The fact is that many of services through unions or foundations but are not the policies available to music people through aware of it. To make that information accessible, existing unions and guilds require a person to earn MusiCares has compiled a directory of over 14 a certain amount of money each year to re-qualilv, 5 --------~-------------------------------~ which can be difficult or impossible if you are incapacitated. THE ISSUE AT HAND The MusiCares insurance plan will enable music industry professionals to obtain affordable medical, A s Recording Academy members dental, vision, substance-abuse and HIV treatment, know, there's more to Grammy and disability coverages. Coverage will be available Week than meets the CBS eye. through one of four programs: (1) Individual, (2) In the special section that begins on page Group (small and large employers), (3) Organized 11, we'll revisit a week of unforgettable Labor (Taft-Hartley) and (4) Senior (65 +). The events, from Natalie Cole's historic Apollo group and organized labor programs are available Theatre show to the gala MusiCares ben- for purchase through brokers, enabling employers efit honoring Bonnie Raitt to a summit and unions to continue already established broker meeting between a couple of Grammy relationships. nominees named Roy Rogers. You'll also CAPITAL CAMPAIGN find pictorial highlights, profiles of this year's Lifetime Achievement inductees, a The Capital campaign is now in development. When pull-out Grammy in place, this initiative will encompass a variety of winner's list and a few components, from a payroll pledge program to other surprises along donations of property through wills, trusts, planned the way. giving, special estate and income tax programs. This While paying tribute phase of MusiC ares will be the ongoing mechanism to musical excellence, that ultimately enables us to create our endowment Grammy Week events and to construct and operate care facilities. also serve as a reflection OUTREACH CAMPAIGN of the Academy's year- round aims and activi- MusiCares also serves as a very positive voice from ties, many of which are our industry to the community. Last year, we ac- now moving into high quired over 8,000 billboards nationwide through gear. In May, our which Paula Abdul, David Crosby, Gloria Estefan MusiCares program introduces the and Young M.C. delivered anti-substance abuse industry's first comprehensive health in- messages. These billboards also displayed 1-800 surance plan, fulfilling a basic human need numbers which featured taped messages from the that's been long overdue in our music artists as well as referral numbers. Over 40,000 community. This new project, along with referrals were generated as a result of this campaign, other MusiCares initiatives, is detailed in and it is our intention to sponsor similar programs this issue's From The President essay. For on an ongoing basis. additional information, consult our Acad- MusiCares is most definitely a work in progress, emy In Action section, where you'll also and to reach its goals and ensure that our business find news and updates on the battle over can deliver quality human services to our people will music education, our forthcoming IMAX require the commitment of every sector of the film venture, and Grammy In The Schools' community. There is little doubt that, if our busi- best semester yet. ness environment can become more secure in these Also in this issue, we take an in-depth areas, we will attract and keep a higher quality of look at SoundScan, the sales reporting individual in our music community--and that's system whose impact on the recording good for everyone! industry goes well beyond the charts. And No one is immune from the ravages of a health don't forget Riffs and Backbeat, where or other personal crisis, and it is reassuring to know you'll encounter everything from lyrics that when a music professional knocks on our door legislation to devil blues to atomic pop. for help, we can now say with conviction that "MusiCares." Q 6 ----- ----._--------------------------.