US Senate Passes Music Modernization Act

The passing of the bipartisan bill, which was co-sponsored by more than 80 Senators, sets into motion an overhaul of music licensing legislation in the US.

The comprehensive bill includes the CLASSICS Act, legislation that guarantees artists and labels who recorded music before 1972 a federal right to be paid for those recordings when played by digital radio outlets.

Today’s news follows the unanimous passing of the bill in the US House of Representatives in April.

NMPA President and CEO David Israelite said: “Today is a momentous day for songwriters, artists, composers, producers, engineers and the entire industry that revolves around them. The Senate vote marks a real step forward towards fairness for the people at the heart of music who have long been undervalued due to outdated laws.

“This was a long and complex process, but ultimately the music industry has come out stronger and more united than ever. We commend Senators Orrin Hatch, Lamar Alexander, Chuck Grassley, and Senate Leadership for swiftly moving this bill to the floor. Now we anxiously await the House’s final approval of the MMA and seeing it signed into law.”

“TODAY IS A MOMENTOUS DAY FOR SONGWRITERS, ARTISTS, COMPOSERS, PRODUCERS, ENGINEERS AND THE ENTIRE INDUSTRY THAT REVOLVES AROUND THEM.”

DAVID ISRAELITE, NMPA (PICTURED)

Mitch Glazier, President, Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) said: “As a legendary band the Grateful Dead once said in an iconic pre-1972 song, ‘what a long strange trip it’s been.’ It’s been an epic odyssey, and we’re thrilled to almost be at our destination.

“For the modern U.S. Senate to unanimously pass a 185-page bill is a herculean feat, only achievable because of the grit, determination, and mobilization of thousands of music creators across the nation.

“The result is a bill that moves us toward modern music licensing landscape better founded on fair market rates and fair pay for all. At long last, a brighter tomorrow for both past and future generations of music creators is nearly upon us. We are indebted to the leadership of Senators Hatch, Grassley, Feinstein, Alexander, Coons, Kennedy and Whitehouse for helping get us there.”

“THE OUTCOME OF THIS COLLABORATION IS A LAW THAT SETS A NEW FRAMEWORK TO GUIDE THE FUTURE OF THE MUSIC INDUSTRY.”

MICHAEL HUPPE, SOUNDEXCHANGE

SoundExchange President and CEO Michael Huppe said: “The future of the music industry got brighter today. Creators of music moved one 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.”

“The Music Modernization Act proves what can happen when constructive industry leaders work together towards a greater good. The SoundExchange community joined a historic coalition of artists, labels, songwriters, music publishers, streaming services, performance rights organizations, producers, engineers, and unions.

“The outcome of this collaboration is a law that sets a new framework to guide the future of the music industry. There are still issues regarding creator fairness that we need to address, but today we celebrate a new era of cooperation and progress across the industry.”

“WE APPLAUD EVERYONE’S HARD WORK AND ESPECIALLY THE SENATORS WHO HAVE WORKED SO DILIGENTLY TO GET THE BILL PASSED.”

JOHN JOSEPHSON, SESAC

John Josephson, Chairman, and CEO of SESAC said: “It’s indeed a significant day and speaking on behalf of all SESAC affiliates, we’re thrilled the Music Modernization Act has passed the Senate unanimously. We applaud everyone’s hard work and especially the Senators who have worked so diligently to get the bill passed.

“We urge the House to adopt the Senate bill for the President to sign, so the MMA becomes a reality. We’re excited about the future of the music industry and modernization that allows all music creators to finally be paid more fairly for their hard work and dedication.”

And NMPA Board Chairman Irwin Robinson said: “The Senate’s passage of the Music Modernization Act is the most exciting development I’ve seen in my career. Songwriters have suffered long enough, and this bill will allow them to be paid fairly by the streaming companies that rely on their work. We got to this point because of the advocacy of hundreds of music creators who rallied behind the MMA and who will drive the future of the music industry.

I look forward to seeing the MMA become law and watching the songwriters, composers, artists and producers who will significantly benefit.”

Martin Bandier, CEO and Chairman of Sony/ ATV, commented: “The unanimous backing of the MMA by the U.S. Senate shows what can be achieved when a diverse group of parties puts aside its differences and works together for the music industry’s greater good.

“This is a significant victory for all rights holders and we are confident that once the bill goes back to the House, it will pass and become law shortly. It will go a long way to ensuring that songwriters and music publishers will be fairly compensated for their contribution to the streaming revolution, which has transformed music into a growth industry once again.”

The Music Modernization Act package contains three key elements:

  • 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, Amazon, Pandora, Google and others. It also repeals Section 114(i) and, consistent with most federal litigation, utilizes random assignment of judges to decide ASCAP and BMI rate-setting cases.
  • The CLASSICS Act (Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, & Important Contributions to Society Act) would benefit artists and music creators who recorded music before 1972 by establishing royalty payments whenever their music is played on digital radio. SoundExchange would distribute royalties for pre-’72 recordings played by Internet, cable and satellite radio services just as it does for post-’72 recordings. Currently only sound recordings made after 1972 receive payments from digital radio services under federal law.
  • The AMP Act (Allocation for Music Producers Act) for the first time adds producers and engineers, who play an indispensable role in the creation of sound recordings, to U.S. copyright law. The bill codifies 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.

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