Free and Fair Trade/Tariffs

NAMM supports free and fair trade. Review the recent informational webinar, including exemption-filing procedures and ongoing updates about the impact of the 2020 Chinese trade agreement.

NAMM Supports Free Trade

On behalf of 10,400 global members, NAMM believes that a strong and vibrant music and pro audio products and entertainment technology industry is important to the educational and cultural vitality, as well as the economic prosperity of all countries. As a trade association, NAMM will continue in our efforts to proactively engage elected officials to keep the lines of dialogue and trade open and urge U.S. and world leaders to reaffirm a commitment to such.

Ongoing updates and resources will continue to be posted to this page. Resources below include policy updates from the U.S. Trade Representative, The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and The National Retail Federation.

To contact NAMM's Public Affairs and Government Relations team, email  

Latest Updates

September 30, 2020: FTC Considering “Made in the USA” Rule

The Federal Trade Commission is considering a proposal to, in effect, codify more than 20 years of enforcement decisions into a broadly-applicable rule setting out when sellers can make unqualified claims that a product is "Made in the USA."

The proposed rule, designed to deter deceptive claims and provide marketers with certainty as to the agency's enforcement approach, would prohibit marketers from making unqualified Made in the USA claims on labels unless (1) final assembly or processing of the product occurs in the US, (2) all significant processing that goes into the product occurs in the US, and (3) all or virtually all ingredients or components of the product are made or sourced in the US. All three criteria must be present to make an unqualified Made in the USA claim.

The new regulation is expected to take effect next year, however at this writing, an implementation date has not been set. NAMM will continue to monitor and report on this issue. Text of the proposed rule.

March 18, 2020: NAMM and the Americans for Free Trade Coalition Urge Swift Tariff Policy Relief

A coalition of 160 retailers, including NAMM and manufacturers and other business groups, hit hard by the tariffs and foreign retaliation, sent a letter to President Trump urging him to take “swift action on a policy that would provide tax relief to millions of American farmers, manufacturers, families, and consumers without having to wait on action from Congress.”

The U.S. still has 7.5 percent and 25 percent duties on more than $350 billion worth of Chinese goods, although the two countries signed a phase one trade agreement in January. Those duties have been left in place as leverage to obtain additional Chinese concessions in a phase two negotiation that has been expected to begin this year — at least before the coronavirus outbreak.

March 2, 2020: The new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA)

On November 30, 2018, the United States reached an agreement with Mexico and Canada in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. While the United States, Mexico, and Canada have completed a new agreement, NAFTA currently remains in effect. Each country must now follow its domestic procedures before the agreement can be ratified and take effect. It is expected that Canada will ratify the USMCA next month.

The Congressional Research Service prepares briefings for Members of Congress. You may access the Congressional Research Service’s NAFTA and the USMCA Summary” to learn more about the agreement.

Of note:

  • Pg. 26 Digital Trade
  • Pg. 27 Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)
  • Pg. 28 Patents
  • Pg. 29 Copyrights and Trademarks
  • Pg. 30 Trade Secrets and Geographical Indications (GIs)
  • Pg. 31 IPR Enforcement and Cultural Exemptions

View the full text of the agreement between the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

View the USMCA webpage.

NAMM monitors trade issues and provides periodic updates on advocacy efforts and pending legislation. Please visit this page regularly.

February 10, 2020: List 4A Reduction CSMS Message, Additional List 3 Exclusions Granted

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has issued a Cargo Systems Messaging Service message regarding the February 14 reduction of the List 4A tariffs from 15% to 7.5%, providing guidance for the updated Customs procedures.

On January 31, 2020, the United States Trade Representative ("USTR") issued a further round of product exclusions pertaining to the Section 301 List 3 currently subject to a 25% tariff. The new list includes 52 specifically crafted product descriptions that cover 117 separate exclusion requests. The products affected include seafood, bicycles and bicycle tires, printed circuit boards, and faucets and valves of various metals. The exclusions are retroactive to when the tariffs were implemented on September 24, 2018 and will expire on August 7, 2020. This is the eighth round of tariff exclusions for List 3.

On February 4,The Wall Street Journal reported that the USTR had granted about 35% of the exemption requests for List 1 and 2 while only 3% of List 3 exemption requests had been granted. NOTE: According to a Mercatus Center update from December, exemption requests for Lists 1 and 2 totaled approximately 14,000, while exemption requests for List 3 totaled over 30,000. According to that report, only 5,000 of the 30,000 List 3 requests had been adjudicated; however, the WSJ’s initial 3% figure reflects those requests easiest to discard such as improperly submitted requests, etc., while more steps are required to arrive at an approval decision.

Current tariff snapshot:

  • Products on HTC lists 1, 2, and 3, are currently tariffed at 25%
  • Products on HTC list 4A (stringed instruments, pianos, wind instruments, percussion, keyboards, accessories and more) are currently subject to a 7.5% tariff
  • Products on HTC list 4B (some stringed instruments, stands and some accessories) are not currently subject to additional tariffs

NAMM will continue to closely monitor this issue. Please check here often for updates and new resources.


    NAMM monitors tax reform issues and provides periodic updates on advocacy efforts and pending legislation. For up-to-date information on this issue, please visit this page regularly.

    Latest Updates

     1/6/21: Department of Labor Issues Independent Contractor Rule; Implementation Unclear Under New Administration

    The Trump Administration issued a final rule on January 6 that makes it easier for businesses to classify workers as independent contractors.

    The U.S. Labor Department’s rule establishes a less restrictive standard for when employers may classify workers as independent contractors rather than as employees. This new regulation has the support of many business organizations but is opposed by workers’ groups seeking policies that would reclassify more independent contractors as employees. Employees are covered by federal minimum wage and overtime laws.

    The rule provides five factors to determine whether a worker is economically dependent on an employer. If economically dependent, then the worker would be considered an employee, not an independent contractor.

    But the rule could face roadblocks in the Biden Administration.  As a regulation issued in the final weeks of the Trump Administration (a “midnight” rule), it likely will be temporarily stopped from taking effect via a presidential memorandum released on Inauguration Day. The rule is to take effect in early March, but the memo would freeze its implementation, at least for a while.

    In the meantime, the Labor Department would likely weigh its options – whether to allow the rule to take effect or essentially do a “redo” of the rulemaking. A new rulemaking would solicit public comments on whether to revise the independent contractor policies.   

    8/31/20: Payroll Tax Deferral Guidelines Issued - Questions Remain

    The U.S. Department of Treasury and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued guidelines to President Trump’s recent payroll tax deferral executive order calling for a deferral of employees’ portion of the Social Security payroll tax from September 1 through December 31, 2020.

    The executive order applies to the 6.2% Social Security payroll tax normally deducted from an employee’s pay and would affect workers whose biweekly pay is less than $4,000 on a pretax basis. Employers are responsible for withholding and paying any deferred taxes. Specifically, employers “must withhold and pay the total Applicable Taxes that the [employer] deferred under this notice ratably from wages and compensation paid between January 1, 2021 and April 30, 2021 or interest, penalties, and additions to tax will begin to accrue on May 1, 2021, with respect to any unpaid Applicable Taxes.”

    The guidelines are available at:

    According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the guidance leaves several questions unanswered, such as:

    Is the payroll tax deferral voluntary for the employer or employee? The notice makes clear that the employer is the affected taxpayer. While the notice does not explicitly say it is voluntary for the employer, it also does not make it mandatory. The notice makes no mention of nor seems to contemplate the employee making the election to defer. Therefore, this would appear to be a decision left to the employer. What happens if an employee no longer works for an employer once the deferral is over?

    Is the employer responsible for the unpaid taxes? The notice implies that the employer is responsible for the deferred taxes but provides that the deferred taxes are to be withheld from employees beginning in January. The notice goes on to state, “If necessary, the [employer] may make arrangements to otherwise collect the total Applicable Taxes from the employee.” But the notice provides no further guidance as to what this might mean. It also provides no guidance on what happens if the person is no longer an employee and the employer is unable to collect the unpaid taxes.

    Must an employer decide by September 1 whether to defer withholding or not? The notice is silent on whether an employer must defer the withholding for the entire deferral period (September 1 to December 31) or whether an employer can start deferring at any point during the deferral period.

    NAMM will continue to monitor this important issue and will provide updates as they are available. Please visit this page regularly.

    CA Prop 65

    NAMM supports resolution to the “background noise” realities of Prop 65 labeling requirements. NAMM is participating in the Coalition for Accurate Product Labels, with pending federal legislation outlining clear compliance and enforcement for product components.

    Latest Update

    Feb. 22, 2021: Prop. 65 Notice of Public Hearing and Extension of Public Comment Period: Amendments to Article 6, Clear and Reasonable Warnings Short-form Warning

    The OEHHA has scheduled a virtual public hearing on March 11, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. (Pacific) on the proposed amendments to Title 27, California Code of Regulations, sections 25601, 25602, 25603, and 25607.1, which would amend certain provisions of the regulations addressing Proposition 65 short-form warnings. Information concerning how to participate in the hearing will be posted on the OEHHA website prior to the hearing.

    The public comment period for this proposed action has been extended; submissions must be received by OEHHA by March 29, 2021. Because of limited in-office staffing during the COVID-19 emergency, OEHHA strongly recommends that written comments be submitted electronically through their website at OEHHA’s Public Comments Webpage at  Comments submitted in paper form may still be mailed, but delays may occur.

    Formaldehyde Emissions and CA Prop 65 Information and Resources

    CA Prop 65

    In 1986, California voters approved Proposition 65, an initiative to address their growing concerns about exposure to toxic chemicals. The law requires California to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity, and for businesses with ten or more employees to provide warnings when they knowingly and intentionally cause significant exposures to listed chemicals. Penalties for violating Proposition 65 by failing to provide warnings can be as high as $2,500 per violation per day. Prop 65 also provides for enforcement "in the public interest" by private attorneys, who typically send a required 60-day notice to prospective violators and then seek to reach settlement agreements which usually include a monetary payment (shared by the lawyers and the state) and a correction of alleged labeling violations.

    Formaldehyde Emissions

    In 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a proposed rule that would regulate the amount of formaldehyde emissions from composite wood, such as hardwood plywood, medium-density fiberboard, and particleboard. Additionally, the proposed rule would regulate laminated wood products, impose more precise labeling on covered products and require compliance information to be passed down from manufacturer/importer through the distribution chain. 

    On December 12, 2016, EPA published a final rule to reduce exposure to formaldehyde emissions from certain wood products produced domestically or imported into the United States. The rule regulates laminated wood products, imposes more precise labeling on covered products and requires compliance information to be passed down from manufacturer/importer through the distribution chain. Any musical instrument made of composite or laminate wood is impacted by the new regulations. In July of 2018, the EPA suppressed a draft health assessment on formaldehyde, suggesting that current regulations protecting the public from overexposure to formaldehyde might not be stringent enough to prevent increased risks of developing leukemia, nose and throat cancer, and other illnesses. NAMM will continue to monitor developments. 

    CARB2 - California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) Phase 2. CARB2 stands for the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) Phase 2, a stringent standard for formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products, including hardwood plywood (HWPW), particleboard (PB), and medium-density fiberboard (MDF). Composite wood products are panels made from pieces, chips, particles, or fibers of wood bonded together with a resin. In the production of laminate flooring, the core board is made up of medium to high-density fiberboard. This is where the emissions concerns come from.

    Note: The formaldehyde emission standards for composite wood products under the EPA final rule, and set by Congress, are identical to the California “Phase 2” formaldehyde emission standards (CARB2). EPA worked to align the other requirements of the federal rule with the California requirements. However, there are a few differences. Unlike the California requirements, among other things, the EPA rule:

    • Requires records be kept for three years versus two years;
    • Requires importers to provide import certification under TSCA beginning March 22, 2019;
    • Requires manufacturers to disclose upon request formaldehyde testing results to their direct purchasers; and
    • Requires laminated products not exempted from the definition of hardwood plywood to meet the hardwood plywood formaldehyde emissions standard beginning March 22, 2024.

    Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulations. Manufacturers exporting musical instruments to the European Union (EU), or operating within the EU, should be aware of the REACH regulation. Effective June 1, 2007, the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) reg (EC1907/2006) is regarded as the strictest in the world pertaining to chemicals (e.g., glues, resins, etc.) used in the manufacture of a wide variety of products. Learn more. 


    Understanding REACH Regulations

    Compliance Guide for Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood for Fabricators and Laminated Product Producers

    Formaldehyde Updates from the EPA

    Manufacturer Frequently Asked Questions

    Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products

    Rule resources and guidance materials

    EPA Fact Sheet

    EPA FAQ and Regulations re Curved Plywood

    Webinars for small entity compliance

    Find an EPA-recognized Accreditation Body

    Find an EPA-recognized Third-Party Certifier

    Endangered Species

    NAMM and global coalition achieved revisions to CITES wood listing (2019 Conference of the Parties) and has established a forum concerning sustainability in the music industry.

    CITES, Traveling with Musical Instruments, LAWGS/LACEY Act and Ivory Ban Information and Resources

    Latest Update:

    Update, October 26, 2020: US Fish and Wildlife Service Launches E-Permit Site

    The Fish and Wildlife Service has officially launched an e-permit platform, which allows businesses seeking import or export permits required by CITES, the Lacey Act and other federal statues to apply for and track permit status using the internet. The platform also allows applicants use the process to pay application fees by credit card or deposit account.

    NAMM has consistently supported the development of an on-line permitting system to speed up processing times. Permit applicants can still use hard-copy applications with regular bank checks. Further information can be found at

    Questions? FWS Help Center

    Music Industry-relevant links:

    Search the complete list of FWS e-permit links.

    Traveling with Musical Instruments

    During the 16th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties in 2013, the United States proposed a “passport” program to ease the burden on musicians traveling with musical instruments made from CITES-listed species. The proposal was adopted and as a result musical instruments with CITES-listed species may travel through a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) designated port with proper documentation. Individuals traveling abroad with musical instruments that contain Brazilian rosewood, tortoiseshell, elephant ivory, or any other parts or products protected under CITES or the Endangered Species Act (ESA) must obtain special documentation before traveling.

    For more information on the permit process, documentation requirements, and how to file, please visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Musical Instruments website.

    Lacey Act

    The Lacey Act is a federal statute that regulates the import, export and commerce of protected wildlife, plant species and products. The law covers all fish and wildlife and their parts or products, plants listed on the CITES Appendices as well as those protected by state law. In 2008, Congress amended the law to include new provisions covering plants and plant materials.  Under the revised law and subsequent regulations,  all shipments of imported pianos and other stringed instruments (e.g., guitars and violins) must be accompanied by a declaration listing that includes, among other things, the scientific name (genus and species) of all wood and other plant material used in the imported product, as well as the country of origin of the wood. Specifically, any imported product subject to Harmonized Tariff Schedule Chapters 9201 and 9202. For more information on the Lacey Act and how it relates to injurious wildlife, visit the Office of Law Enforcement.

    Ivory Ban

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has been tasked with developing specific rules and regulations for oversight and enforcement. Along with other music and musician organizations, NAMM is actively  advocating for the development of compliance rules that assure fair and legal trade of instruments that contain ivory and that regulations are congruent with exiting requirements (CITES, etc.). The release of proposed rules and a public comment period is expected in the coming months. NAMM continues to be active in advocacy and oversight of rule development process and will advise NAMM Members of the public comment period.  NAMM Members seeking further clarification on the ivory ban can visit the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife’s FAQs.

    Background and Resources:

    NAMM Delegation Advocates for Music Education in Washington, D.C.

    More than 100 music industry leaders, notable artists and arts education activists descended on the nation’s capital this week to advocate for all school-aged children to have access to quality, comprehensive school music education programs. As part of the annual National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Advocacy Fly-In, held May 20-23, the delegation met with Members of Congress and other policy stakeholders to reinforce the importance of music as part of a well-rounded education and to urge Congress to fund the Title IV program at its authorized level of $1.65 billion in fiscal year 2020 to ensure that the goals of the Every Student Succeeds Act are realized for every child.

    The week of advocacy work began on Monday, May 20 with a Day of Service at Charles Hart Middle School in Congress Heights. Nearly 60 NAMM Members provided one-on-one instruction on drums, guitars and ukuleles to elementary students as well as needed maintenance and repair to the school’s musical instruments. In the evening, the delegation delved into the opportunities to advance music education at a special panel session featuring arts leaders, school administrators, and the Save the Music Foundation.

    On Tuesday, the delegates prepared for their time on Capitol Hill by participating in advocacy training, during which the group was apprised of current issues facing public school music programs and briefed on the Every Student Succeeds Act and the current political climate from a variety of policy and arts leaders. Michael Yaffe, Associate Dean of the Yale School of Music, presented on issues on equity in music education as detailed in the Yale School of Music Declaration on Equity in Music for Students. The report examines the role of music making in the lives of students in America’s cities, both large and small.

    That evening, the group joined The NAMM Foundation in honoring Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03), Committee on Education and Labor, with the SupportMusic Champion Award. The award was presented by former Secretary of Education Richard Riley and NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond to the Chairman, in recognition of the Chairman’s unwavering commitment to music and the arts and for his role as one of the primary authors and champion of the Every Student Succeeds Act. The Act reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act for the first time in 13 years and replaced the No Child Left Behind Act. Additionally, in 2017, he worked to secure passage of legislation to reform and update the nation’s career and technical education system, as well as the juvenile justice system in 2018, both of which were signed into law by President Donald Trump.

    Upon presentation of the award, the Chairman shared, “I want to thank the National Association of Music Merchants for promoting music and arts education in public schools. We know that access to music and art programs can be a powerful tool for improving student engagement, attendance, and outcomes. We must continue the important work of ensuring that all students have access to high-quality arts and music programs that enrich their development and lead to better educational outcomes.”

    On Wednesday, the delegation met with Members of Congress and other elected officials to advocate for school-level music programs across the nation and to discuss the multitude of benefits music education espouses such as increased brain function, focus and language development. Delegates also shared a report from the Kennedy Center’s Turnaround Arts program and The NAMM Foundation. The Foundation has provided over $500,000 to expand music education in 70 schools through the Turnaround Arts program. Researchers explored music education instruction, specialists and curriculum at Turnaround Arts schools, finding that as schools invested in music education, the quality of and access to music education increased from 27.8% to 75%, and the average number of minutes of music instruction per week increased from 17 to 33, nearing the national average of 40 minutes per week. Read the release here:

    Later Wednesday evening, the delegation, music and arts stakeholders and others gathered to celebrate former NY Yankee World Series Champion, NAMM Foundation Board Member, music education champion, and accomplished musician Bernie Williams. Williams has served as a delegate on the fly-in for the past 10 years, citing his own passion for music as a catalyst to share the joys of music making for all children. When Williams accepted the award, he reflected on the past years of advocacy work on ESSA, and what it means to him: “Twenty, thirty, forty years from now, there’s going to be a child in school that thinks to themselves, ‘somebody thought that it was important for me to learn music.’ I had an interview earlier today where I was asked about my career and I said that ‘There’s not even a comparison, no comparison - there's no amount of home runs in the world that can compare with having the opportunity to impact the education of our kids for years to come.’”

    Photos of the NAMM Fly-In events are available for editorial use. Please contact NAMM Public Relations department for images. 


    Elizabeth Dale

    Music has been used as a tool to inspire change for decades. A way to bring people together, educate, entertain, and bring awareness to injustices, music has served as a vehicle to inspired change and nowhere in history was this better demonstrated than during the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

    Martin Luther King Jr. commented on the power of music during his opening address of the 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival saying, “Jazz speaks for life. The blues tell the story of life’s difficulties – and, if you think for a moment, you realize that they take the hardest of realities of life and put them into music, only to come out with some new hope or sense of triumph. This is triumphant music.” As the prolific leader of the civil rights movement, King utilized music throughout the movement as the soundscape for change, and the songs written during this time would, years later, come to define a generation.

    MLK on Jazz

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    Another prolific civil rights leader was the late Congressman Rep. John Lewis who said, “If it hadn’t been for music, the civil rights movement would’ve been like a bird without wings.” Lewis was one of the “big six” leaders of groups who organized the 1963 March on Washington and led the first three marches from Selma to Montgomery. Lewis was elected to Congress in 1986 and served 17 terms for the House of Representatives. In 2015, the NAMM Foundation awarded Lewis with the SupportMusic Award as part of the NAMM Music Education Advocacy D.C. Fly-In.

    One of the many goals within NAMM is documenting the history of the music products industry. The task falls under the stewardship of the NAMM Resource Center, which tirelessly collects these stories through its oral history collection. One unique areas of interest within the collection are stories from the civil rights movement, which consist of first-hand accounts of the protests, events, and music that defined the movement. Here are just a few of the interviews that are part of this larger collection to date.

    Pete Seeger
    Seeger popularized the song, “We Shall Overcome,” which became the accepted anthem of the civil rights movement. Seeger and activist Guy Carawan later introduced the song at the inaugural meeting of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960. Seeger has since claimed that he was responsible for changing the original lyric of “We will overcome” to “We shall overcome.” Also, Seeger was influential in organizing a benefit concert for the Highlander Folk School at Carnegie Hall concert that featured the Freedom Singers.

    Pete Seeger

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    Lena Horne
    The actress, dancer, and singer was an instrumental civil rights activist throughout her life. During a World War II USO tour in 1945, Horne refused to play for segregated audiences where, according to Horne, German prisoners of war were seated in front of black servicemen during a World War II USO tour. Horne participated in the famed March on Washington, where she spoke and performed on behalf of the NAACP, SNCC, and the National Council of Negro Women. In the 1930s, she worked side-by-side with Former First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, in an attempt to pass anti-lynching laws. In 1983, Horne was awarded the Spingarn Medal, an award for outstanding achievement by an African American by the NAACP.

    Lena Horne

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    Tom Paxton
    The singer-songwriter has been passionate about human, civil, and labor rights throughout his career. In 1964, Paxton took part in Freedom Summer, a volunteer campaign to register as many black Americans to vote as possible. Paxton also was a frequent performer at civil rights rallies, and his song “Beau John” was penned after attending a Freedom Song Workshop in Atlanta. Inspired by the tragic murder of three civil rights activists that summer, Paxton wrote “Goodman, Schwerner, and Chaney.”

    Tom Paxton

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    As Dr. King closed out his address at the Berlin Jazz Festival, “Much of the power of our Freedom Movement in the United States has come from this music. It has strengthened us with its sweet rhythms when courage began to fail. It has calmed us with its rich harmonies when spirits were down.”

    NAMM invites you to see the current list of interviews associated with the civil rights movement in its collection at and to listen to an episode of NAMM Resource Center’s The Music History Project podcast dedicated to the civil rights movement at

    Chad Smith

    Interview Date:
    December 7, 2020
    Job Title:
    Musician, Drummer

    Chad Smith developed a great sense of rhythm at an early age and attributes that to having music constantly surrounding him. He was in love with the musician’s lifestyle and knew that he wanted to make drumming a career. After putting in the work playing clubs six nights a week and playing in multiple bands with mild success, Chad moved to California and auditioned for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Thirty-two years later, Chad is still the drummer for the Chili Peppers and has played shows in just about every venue all across the world. He also is a strong proponent of music education and will often make stops on his tours to give clinics or lessons to the communities he visits.

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    Chad Smith

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    Brad and Chad Smith Full Interview

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