Music Modernization Act Passes U.S. House With Unanimous Vote

Rep. Doug Collins, R-GA

The Music Modernization Act, (MMA) H.R. 5447, was adopted today (April 25) by a unanimous vote (415-0) by the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill now moves to the U.S. Senate, where a hearing is scheduled for May 15 in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“We are an important step closer to the adoption of this landmark copyright reform legislation,” said Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) President Steve Bogard. “I’ve seen too many of my colleagues give up writing songs professionally because of unfairly low streaming royalties and other changes in the era of digital music delivery. The MMA gives us tools to move toward better compensation from streaming companies, while giving songwriters and music publishers control of digital mechanical music licensing.”

The Music Modernization Act would change a 1909 mechanical royalty standard to one that reflects a song’s worth in today’s marketplace. The bill also creates a new Music Licensing Collective governed by songwriters and music publishers, and mandates equitable distribution to songwriters of any unclaimed funds.

Other portions of the bill include:

  • Changing the lifetime appointment of a single rate court judge for ASCAP and BMI to a fairer method, similar to other federal court appointments
  • Altering Section 114(i) of the Copyright Act, allowing a rate court to consider all relevant evidence on a “willing buyer / willing seller” basis when determining songwriter compensation – including the rates that recording artists earn – which is currently prohibited by law
  • Ending the Copyright Office mass “Notice of Intent” program
  • Providing federal protection to sound recordings made before February 15, 1972 and brings these “pre-72” recordings under the same federal licensing system applied to “post-72” recordings
  • Allowing music producers to be paid directly by Sound Exchange.

“This is an historic day for music creators,” said SoundExchange’s CEO Michael Huppe. “Today’s overwhelming support in the House for the Music Modernization Act reflects the bill’s widespread consensus, both across the aisle and across the music industry. This legislation stands to benefit artists, songwriters, labels, publishers, studio producers and others – many of whom are represented by the SoundExchange Companies.

Huppe continued, “The Music Modernization Act includes provisions SoundExchange has advocated for over many years, as we work to advance fair treatment for all creators involved in bringing our music to life. We are grateful that lawmakers in the House worked to update our nation’s copyright laws for the digital age, and we look forward to working with the Senate to get this legislation passed quickly. Music creators have waited long enough.”

“The House passage of the Music Modernization Act is truly historic for songwriters and the entire music ecosystem which they fuel,” said NMPA’s David Israelite. “The MMA improves how songwriters are paid and how their work is valued, both of which are long overdue. The bill also helps digital streaming companies by giving them access to all the music their consumers want to enjoy.”

Israelite added, “I am immensely grateful to Congressmen Doug Collins and Hakeem Jeffries who have seen this process through from the beginning and have stood by songwriters through a complex and lengthy collaboration process, and to Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Nadler for getting this bill to the House floor. Today’s vote sends a strong message that streaming services and songwriters can be on the same side – pushing for a better future for all. We now look forward to the Senate advancing the MMA and it ultimately becoming law.”

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About the Author

Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]

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