Pop stars will perform pre-Grammys fund raiser

Pop stars including Elton John, Billy Joel, Sheryl Crow and the Eagles will perform a series of concerts the night before the Grammys to raise money for
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Pop stars including Elton John, Billy Joel, Sheryl Crow and theEagles will perform a series of concerts the night before the Grammysto raise money for a fledgling group of performers seeking bettertreatment by major record labels, organizers said Wednesday.

At least five shows sponsored by the Recording Artists Coalition, agroup spearheaded by Crow and Eagles singer Don Henley, are planned atvarious Los Angeles-area venues for Feb. 26, the eve of the glitteringawards ceremony honoring the industry's best music and biggest stars,spokesmen said. Among other artists committed to performing at theshows are country pop trio the Dixie Chicks, who are embroiled inlitigation with their record company, Sony Music Entertainment as wellas former Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks, hard rock veteran OzzyOsbourne and the alternative rock bands Offspring, No Doubt and Weezer,said Simon Renshaw, a coalition board member. "More artists arecommitting as we go. They're coming in fast and furious," said Renshaw,a partner in the high-profile entertainment management company The Firmwhose clients include the Dixie Chicks. "It looks like the artisticcommunity is getting the message that it's finally time for them to dosomething."

According to the Los Angeles Times, the artist coalition, whichcounts about 100 entertainers as members, has already booked fourvenues for the benefits -- the Forum in suburban Inglewood, the LongBeach Arena, the Universal Amphitheatre, and the Los Angeles SportsArena -- and was seeking a fifth. Renshaw said the number of concertscould grow to more than five before plans are completed.

Proceeds for the show will support activities of the RAC, which islobbying the California legislature and Congress to stop what theorganization brands as unfair and coercive business practices used bythe major labels to deny artists fair compensation.

Recording industry executives maintain they conduct their businessfairly, that artists benefit greatly from the contracts they signvoluntarily, and are paid equitable royalties based on "time-honoredindustry practices."

"The record companies are the ones who helped these artists get tothe point where they could sell tickets and play arenas in the firstplace," one industry executive told the Times. But Jay Cooper, anattorney for RAC, insisted the group was "not raising money to go towar against the record companies." "Artists have at times haddifferences with record companies on various issues and they would liketo speak with a common voice, just as the record companies speak with acommon voice on many issues, and very effectively," he said.

Grammy chief Michael Greene expressed support for the benefitconcerts, telling the Times he understood that the musicians areseeking to improve conditions for creative and technical people.

One of RAC's biggest causes is its effort to win repeal of aCalifornia state Labor Code amendment won by the music industry in 1987that keeps recording artists tied to personal contracts longer thantalent in other industries, like film and television. The group alsowants to ensure that artists are paid fair royalties for thefast-growing arena of music that is distributed over the Internet,Renshaw said.