Anyone who reads today's headlines about music technology issues is sure to sense a tension as the recording industry makes the transition to a digital marketplace. In Washington, where the Recording Academy (a non-profit membership organization made up of artists, songwriters, producers, engineers and other creators) serves on the front lines in the fight for creators' rights, it's more than tension - it's a battleground.

On one side are the technology companies that seek to use music to advance their services. On the other side are our members and the industry (music publishers and record labels) who seek fair compensation for their work. The battle has been going on for years. But it's time for a truce.

This year, the Recording Academy will celebrate its 50th Grammy awards. In each of those 50 years, technology has allowed music creators to reach their fans more effectively, from the portable transistor radio to the CD.

Today as well, technologies can connect creators and consumers in new and exciting ways, but the piracy enabled by such advances poses a threat to those who rely on copyright to make their living.

That said, I am convinced the best defense against piracy is not litigation or legislation, but rather a vibrant and complete legal marketplace. To accomplish that, the music and technology sectors need to work together.

To that end, this summer we convened the Grammy Music & Technology Leadership Retreat with top representatives from both industries at George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch in Marin County. Why at Skywalker? Because Lucas' operation is one that seamlessly melds content and technology to produce results that are artistic, popular - and profitable.

Presidents, CEOs and other high-level executives represented digital music services such as Rhapsody, Napster, eMusic, SNOCAP and Pandora; technology manufacturers such as Microsoft and Sandisk; retailers including Best Buy and Amazon; major and independent music publishers; and all four major record labels.

And to keep us focused on the heart of the industry, we mixed in four music creators: Ronnie Dunn of Brooks & Dunn, Leslie Ann Jones of Skywalker Sound, and two of the industry's most successful producers, Jimmy Jam and Phil Ramone.

Many of the executives were meeting face-to-face for the first time. They engaged in an honest dialogue and all agreed to continue the discussion beyond the retreat. They also contributed to several guiding philosophies - which we're calling the Grammy Music & Technology Principles ( - that stress the importance of both creators' rights and consumers' expectations, as well as the need to push technological boundaries with interoperable music systems that respect copyright. Both "sides" agreed that music technology is not a zero-sum game; each industry will enjoy greater prosperity by working with the other and continuing the dialogue.

In Washington, several initiatives are in play that could help advance the digital music marketplace. Licensing reform proposals seek to streamline the process of acquiring rights to music in order to allow the legal services to offer a wider catalog - and thus compete with pirate sites that offer virtually everything. Another proposal aims to remove an anomaly in the law that allows the $20 billion broadcast industry to skip royalty payments to artists - putting cutting-edge Internet and satellite radio services (that enjoy no such exemption) at a disadvantage.

In both of these cases, Congress can do little if the music and technology industries do not form a consensus on their own. And to do that, we have to talk to each other. We at the Academy are committed to continuing to work with forward-looking executives from Silicon Valley to Manhattan.

We invite everyone to join the conversation (go to, then click on this commentary) and help us work together to ensure a future of great music - and stunning technologies that deliver it to the fans.