'It is a terrific result for songwriters': Music Modernisation Act passes key vote

'It is a terrific result for songwriters': Music Modernisation Act passes key vote

Music industry executives and trade bodies have welcomed the passing of the Music Modernisation Act by the House of Representatives.

The bill won bipartisan support for the need to update music copyright laws in line with the changes in music consumption. The bill, which must now be passed by the US Senate, would be the biggest update to music legislation in 40 years.

The legislation would reform the music licensing process with new technology and greater transparency to speed up royalty payments to music publishers and songwriters. It would also close a digital loophole for legacy recordings.

Congress would establish an organisation to track songwriters’ credits and distribute royalties. In the US, SoundExchange collects digital royalties for sound recordings from webcasters and services such as Pandora and SiriusXM. 

“The MMA is a game-changing piece of legislation and its passage in the House of Representatives is a terrific result for songwriters and publishers,” said Sony/ATV Music Publishing chairman and CEO Martin Bandier. “This brings us one step closer to ensuring that songwriters and publishers are properly recognized for their essential contribution to the streaming success story that has transformed the music industry’s fortunes. We now look forward to a positive vote in the Senate and this becoming law.”

“With this unanimous vote, we are one step closer to a once-in-a-generation reform of our music licensing laws,” said RIAA chairman/CEO Cary Sherman. “It’s a long time coming and we have much work to do, but the breadth and depth of unprecedented legislative support demonstrated over the last two weeks is illustrative. It is the result of a broken system that poorly serves creators and years of painstaking consensus-building by many key members of Congress. This bill has advanced as far as it has because its component parts reflect reforms of the entire music ecosystem. That is an essential ingredient.”

“After years of advocating for reform, we are thrilled that our country’s leaders are now paving the way for a brighter future for music creators who have struggled under outdated laws for far too long,” added ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews. “We thank the House, especially our many congressional champions like Reps. Goodlatte, Nadler, Collins and Jeffries, for their hard work and recognition of music’s massive cultural and economic significance to our country. We urge the Senate to take up this industry-supported bill without delay."

The Recording Academy, which called for the reforms back in 2014, also welcomed the vote.

"Music creators compose the soundtrack to our lives. These creators deserve to be paid a fair wage for their work," said Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow. "The passage of the Music Modernisation Act in the House of Representatives is a historic step forward for all music creators, ensuring that they are credited, paid, and shown the respect they deserve for the impact they have on our culture and daily life.”

Chris Harrison, CEO of the Digital Media Association, which represents music streaming companies, said: “The Music Modernisation Act is a great step forward, bringing greater transparency through a blanket license, which is critical to a modern, efficient licensing system.

"Digital streaming services have saved the music industry, delivering consumers better experiences and better value, and growing revenue for creators. The MMA will ensure fans and artists can take full advantage of streaming to create, discover, and enjoy the music they love. The music industry is streaming forward and we will continue to work with Congress to enable the industry to move away from the music mess of the past."

Chris Israel, of the Music First Coalition, said that iconic recordings and their creators are now “one step closer to being valued for the amazing contributions they have made”.

The Music Modernisation Act unites provisions from four previously introduced bills – the Allocation for Music Producers (AMP) Act, the Classics Act, the Fair Play Fair Pay Act, and a songwriter-specific version of the Music Modernisation Act – to provide protections for all music creators.

A hearing is expected to be scheduled in the Senate within the coming weeks.

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