The Music Modernization Act

The ramifications are now just taking effect of the law that President Trump signed Oct. 11, 2018 – The Music Modernization Act.  It was witnessed by a smattering of industry executives and such recordings artists as Kid Rock, John Rich, Mike Love, Craig Morgan, Mercy Me band, Doobie Brothers, Kayne West, and Sam Moore.

Trump’s made a statement to the press at the signing of the bill: “The Music Modernization Act closes loopholes in our digital royalties’ laws to ensure that songwriters, artists and producers receive fair payment for licensing of music,” Trump said just before signing the law. “I’ve been reading about this for many years and never thought I’d be involved in it, but I got involved in it. They were treated very unfairly. They’re not going to be treated unfairly anymore.”

After an effort that began years ago and was renewed last year, the compromise legislation, which ultimately took much more compromise than the initial version of the bill anticipated, will present a whole new set of business conditions on the music publishing industry that hopefully will be worth with the reward of higher rates for songwriters and publishers.

“The Music Modernization Act is finally the law of the land,” National Music Publishers Assn. president and CEO David Israelite said in a statement. “Songwriters have for too long labored without seeing fair rates and receiving all that they deserve, and for the first time in history, the music industry has partnered with the tech industry to fix these systemic problems. As we embark on supporting and helping build the critical structures within the MMA, we are humbled by the extraordinary progress propelled by compromise and the unprecedented political involvement of music creators. Today is about their future and this bill stands as a great statement on what can be done when we work together.”

Another component of the bill, the Classics Act, will finally make sure that artists with pre-1972 records will receive master recording performance royalties; while a third component codifies a process by which Sound Exchange can pay producers and engineers the royalties accorded to them by their agreements with artists.

“The Music Modernization Act is now the law of the land, and thousands of songwriters and artists are better for it,” RIAA president Mitch Glazier said. “The result is a music market better founded on fair competition and fair pay.

Recording Academy president and CEO Neil Portnow applauded the signing of the legislation. “As we celebrate the harmony and unity that got us here, we applaud the efforts of the thousands of performers, songwriters, and studio professionals who rallied for historic change to ensure all music creators are compensated fairly when their work is used by digital and satellite music services,” he said in a statement. “We thank the members of Congress who championed this issue throughout the past several years to bring music law into the 21st century.”

“The signing of the Music Modernization Act into law, by the President, is the culmination of a gargantuan struggle that was resolved by an unparalleled alliance between all music industry stakeholders and the relevant tech companies,” A2IM CEO Richard Burgess said in a statement. “In this digital age, more music is enjoyed by more people than at any time in the history of humankind. The signing of this bill represents a significant step towards better lives for music creators and those that support them. A standing ovation is greatly deserved for all involved in this historic achievement.”

While songwriters are expected to enjoy better payouts from the law, on-demand services derive a huge benefit too in that the blanket license insures that they won’t be hit with copyright infringement lawsuits if they follow the rules correctly.

What does all this mean? First, songwriters and artists will receive royalties on songs recorded before 1972. Second, the MMA will improve how songwriters are paid by streaming services with a single mechanical licensing database overseen by music publishers and songwriters. The cost of creating and maintaining this database will be paid for by digital streaming services. Third, the act will take unclaimed royalties due to music professionals and provide a consistent legal process to receive them. Previously, these unclaimed royalties were held by digital service providers like Spotify. All of this should also ensure that artists are paid more and have an easier time collecting money they are owed.

The press is so busy slamming Trump that they seem to miss any good he is doing for this country. The term “draining the swamp” not only refers to Washington politics but also affects the music business as well.

The entertainment business has a long-ways to go in correcting its past sins, but this is at least an attempt to establish a little more fairness to the song writers and artists.

I know that entertainment is just a small part of the overall picture of life and I need to keep that in perspective. As Bob Dylan so eloquently said “You’re going to die. You’re going to be dead. It could be 20 years, it could be tomorrow, anytime. So am I. I mean, we’re just going to be gone. The world’s going to go on without us. All right now. You do your job in the face of that, and how seriously you take yourself you decide for yourself.”

For us that are getting older, Dylan’s statement has a little more reality……..

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