Business News Labels & Publishers Legal Media

Beefed up Music Modernization Act arrives in US Senate

By | Published on Friday 11 May 2018

US Congress

The Music Modernization Act that not even one of you is bored of reading about yet has been introduced into the US Senate by Senator Orrin Hatch.

This latest development requires bosses at all the American music industry trade bodies and collecting societies to find yet another way of saying they support these proposals. Given they’ll be required to issue another round of quotes if and when Senate approves this bill, I reckon they should all start work on that now, with the aim of each organisation welcoming the new laws in the form of a limerick.

Anyway, the Music Modernization Act, as you all surely remember, having read every single word we’ve written about it avidly, originally sought to fix the mechanical rights mess that has dogged the streaming music sector in America. It will do this by copying how the so called mechanical rights in songs are managed in every other country in the world. What a bold and innovative move!

That plan is still at the heart of the MMA, but a revamped and beefed up version of the legislation was unveiled last month which also included elements of other music copyright proposals that have been doing the rounds in Washington of late. Perhaps most important of those is the move to fix the pre-1972 technicality in American copyright law which is [a] stupid, [b] short-changed legacy artists in the online radio domain and [c] led to lots of tedious and tiring litigation.

The people behind the MMA have sought to get as much consensus behind the proposals as possible, from across the music industry and also the digital music sector. This has meant ensuring all stakeholders benefit in some way.

It has also meant not including the one big music copyright proposal that has been doing rounds in Washington for years now, ie forcing AM/FM radio stations in America to pay royalties to artists and labels, like their counterparts in other countries do. Presumably the MMA’s authors recognised that, with a powerful broadcast lobby in the US, including those proposals would scupper the whole project.

There are still some critics of the MMA in the music community, though groups representing artists, labels, publishers and songwriters have all come out in favour. Coupled with the legislation having cross-party support in Congress, that helped speed the proposals through the House Of Representatives, which passed the bill last month. There could be more scrutiny in Senate, though the MMA’s backers are still hoping to get the measures through the law-making process super fast.

Formally introducing the expanded MMA into Senate yesterday, the aforementioned Hatch said: “Today’s introduction is an important step toward enacting historic reform for our badly outdated music laws”.

He went on: “For far too long, our old-fashioned, disorganised way of collecting and distributing music royalties has resulted in songwriters and other content creators being paid far too little for their work. It’s also exposed digital music companies to significant liability and created overall uncertainty in the music marketplace. As a songwriter myself, I know how important these issues are. That’s why I’m so pleased we’re taking this significant step today to bring fairness and certainty to our music laws”.

With the embarrassing and total lack of limericks being issued by the music industry in relation to this latest MMA development, here are some tedious quotes that I’ve cut and pasted from some press releases so that you can all ignore them. But before you all starting the ignoring, let’s acknowledge my champion cutting and pasting efforts. And hey, how good are those limericks going to be? I reckon David Israelite’s will be the best.

NMPA CEO David Israelite: “The introduction of the Music Modernization Act package in the Senate is a massive step forward for songwriters. [The senators endorsing the bill] have done music creators a great service by sponsoring a music licensing package which will help not only songwriters and composers but also producers and legacy artists. The bill improves both how and how much songwriters are paid while increasing transparency and enabling digital music platforms to thrive. The MMA represents unprecedented consensus around necessary updates to how music creators are valued, and we look forward to seeing it become law”.

ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews: “After a unanimous vote to pass the MMA in the House, we are THRILLED to see such ardent, bi-partisan support for music creators in the Senate. This legislation is critical to ensuring songwriters have a pathway to fair compensation so they can sustain their livelihoods and create the next great songs. We applaud the leadership of fellow songwriter Senator Hatch … for spearheading this effort in the Senate. We look forward to the Senate’s vote and eventual passage of the MMA”.

musicFIRST Executive Director Chris Israel: “Today’s introduction of the Music Modernization Act follows the House’s unanimous passage of similar legislation and demonstrates that we are one step closer to enacting once-in-a-generation legislation that will bring old laws into the digital age and treat music creators fairly. The comprehensive approach taken in this bill for updating federal copyright law enjoys broad support in Congress and throughout the entire music industry. We applaud this bipartisan group of Senators for introducing this legislation benefiting music creators, services and fans and look forward to its swift consideration and passage in the coming weeks”.

Nashville Songwriters Association International president Steve Bogard: “The Music Modernization Act … will create the most comprehensive and important copyright reform package the United States Senate has considered in decades. [It] gives songwriters, artists and music producers essential tools to achieve fair marketplace royalty rates in the digital era”.

SoundExchange CEO Michael Huppe: “On behalf of the 150,000+ music creators represented by SoundExchange, we are grateful to Senator Hatch for building this consensus legislative package that will benefit the entire music ecosystem. Taken together, the elements of this legislation will strengthen and protect the rights and interests of creators – the artists, songwriters and producers whose music enriches our lives – and it will improve engagement between the creative community and the digital services whose businesses rely on their work. We look forward to working with the sponsors and the entire community of stakeholders that built accord on this package to make it law”.



READ MORE ABOUT:

SIGN UP GO PREMIUM CMU NEWS CMU DAILY CMU DIGEST CMU TRENDS SETLIST