This is a big win for artists across the United States. The Music Modernization Act has unanimously passed in the Senate. With more than 80 senators voting, it is impressive that this 185-page bill was passed with such strong support. The Act will significantly alter ancient laws around licensing that have been hurting artists for decades.
The Act contains three key components:
- The CLASSICS Act guarantees artists and labels who recorded music before 1972 a federal right to be paid for those recordings when played by digital radio outlets. This essentially ends a 140-year protection on thousands of recordings.
- The Music Modernization Act reforms Section 115 of the U.S. Copyright Act to create a single licensing entity that administers the mechanical reproduction rights for all digital uses of musical compositions – like those used in interactive streaming models offered by Apple, Spotify, Pandora, and others. It also repeals Section 114(i) and now utilizes random assignment of judges to decide ASCAP and BMI rate-setting cases.
- The AMP Act (Allocation for Music Producers Act) adds producers and engineers, who play an indispensable role in the create of sound recordings, to U.S. copyright law for the FIRST time. The bill puts into law the producer’s right to collect digital royalties and provides a consistent, permanent process for studio professionals to receive royalties for their contributions to the creation of music.
NMPA President and CEO David Israelite praised the Senate’s decision: “Today is a momentous day for songwriters, artists, composers, producers, engineers and the entire industry that revolves around them. The Senate vote marks a true step forward towards fairness for the people at the heart of music who have long been undervalued due to outdated laws.”
The next step, however, is for the Music Modernization Act to go through the reconsideration process with the House of Representatives and finally, a signature from the President. The House previously passed the bill last April.
There is only one industry partner that is opposing the Act: Sirius XM. They have publicly denounced the Music Modernization Act arguing that it is unfair the new royalty change does not apply to terrestrial radio. They have paid over $150 million in royalties to labels. It is important to note that Sirius XM would not have paid those royalties had they not been rightfully sued. Artists should not have to sue companies, losing even more money, just to get fairly paid for their work.
Musicians including Paul McCartney, Stevie Nicks, Steven Tyler, Katy Perry, Sia, Tom Waits, and P!nk have signed a letter vowing to boycott the satellite radio provider if they do not change their position on the Act.
But for now, things are looking up for the music industry with the unanimous vote. SoundExchange President and CEO Michael Huppe said: “The future of the music industry got brighter today. Creators of music moved on step closer to getting paid more fairly. And industry forces that fought to maintain an unfair and harmful status quo were rebuffed. Now, SoundExchange’s 170,000-member community has just one word for the House of Representatives: Encore.”