Bipartisan Senators Introduce Major Music Reform Package
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) joined Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and a bipartisan group of senators, including Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) David Perdue (R-Ga.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), to introduce a major music reform package. The package, titled the Music Modernization Act, will bring outdated music licensing laws into the 21st century and create a fairer marketplace for songwriters and other content creators. It combines three previously introduced pieces of legislation—the Music Modernization Act (MMA), the Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, & Important Contributions to Society (CLASSICS) Act and the Allocation for Music Producers (AMP) Act. A similar package recently passed the U.S. House of Representatives by an overwhelming vote of 415-0. The bill introduced today has virtually unheard of support across the music industry and will make a real difference for songwriters, recording artists, producers, sound engineers, digital music companies and other music stakeholders.
“Though the way we listen to music may change over time, the lasting mark music creators from all generations leave with us does not,” Grassley said. “This broadly bipartisan package ensures that all music creators have the access to the royalties they’ve earned and that music lovers can better access these works of art. I’m grateful for the hard work of my colleagues and stakeholders to advance this much-needed reform package.”
“Today’s introduction is an important step toward enacting historic reform for our badly outdated music laws,” Hatch said. “For far too long, our old-fashioned, disorganized way of collecting and distributing music royalties has resulted in songwriters and other content creators being paid far too little for their work. It’s also exposed digital music companies to significant liability and created overall uncertainty in the music marketplace. As a songwriter myself, I know how important these issues are. That’s why I’m so pleased we’re taking this significant step today to bring fairness and certainty to our music laws.”
“I could not imagine a bigger boost for this legislation than to have Senator Hatch and Senator Grassley’s leadership, and I’m proud to cosponsor this legislation which includes the Music Modernization Act that addresses two of the greatest challenges facing songwriters: One is that the arrival of the Internet has meant that many songwriters aren’t paid royalties when their songs are played, and two, when they are paid, they aren’t paid a fair market value for their songs,” Alexander said. “This new legislation is broader, more effective and includes all of the provisions unanimously approved by the House of Representatives in April. Now the Senate should do our job so this bill can become law this year, and songwriters can finally receive the money they are owed.”
“This legislative package will finally address the outdated laws that have plagued the music community for years, and I’m particularly excited that this is a bipartisan effort through and through,” Coons said. “First, this package will help ensure that songwriters, artists, and music producers are compensated fairly in the digital age, and second, it will make it easier for digital music platforms to get the licenses they need to play to music that we all love. This really is a win-win.”
“Artists who made music prior to 1972 are getting a raw financial deal because of an antiquated loophole in our legal system. Our bill will close that loophole and finally give the recognition and compensation that these artists deserve. Louisiana is the birthplace of jazz. Artists like Fats Domino who contributed to that uniquely New Orleans sound are pioneers. They deserve fair protection and payment for their contributions,” said Kennedy. “I am proud to be a part of this effort.”
“As a music lover, I’m proud to cosponsor legislation that will bring clarity and certainty to our complex music licensing system,” Leahy said. “This system has underpaid artists and hamstrung innovative music services for far too long. I look forward to continuing to work in a bipartisan way to bring these important reforms across the finish line.”
Statements of Support:
Steve Bogard, Nashville Songwriters Association International President
“The Music Modernization Act, Classics Act and AMP Act will together create the most comprehensive and important copyright reform package the United States Senate has considered in decades. This group of bills, which will also be called collectively the Music Modernization Act, gives songwriters, artists and music producers essential tools to achieve fair marketplace royalty rates in the digital era. The Nashville Songwriters Association (NSAI) would like to thank Chairman Grassley and Senators Hatch, Whitehouse and Coons for their leadership in guiding this important legislation. We also want to note the tireless efforts of Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, who has worked for months on the reforms contained in this bill that will benefit present and future generations of songwriters.”
Daryl P. Friedman, Chief Industry, Government, & Member Relations Officer, Recording Academy
“As the organization that represents music’s creators, the Recording Academy is grateful for the introduction of this comprehensive package. The Academy’s songwriter, performer, producer and engineer members in every state will advocate for passage of the Music Modernization Act and they thank Senators Hatch, Grassley, Whitehouse, and all the original cosponsors for their support of music makers.”
David Israelite, National Music Publishers' Association President & CEO
“The introduction of the Music Modernization Act package in the Senate is a massive step forward for songwriters. Senators Orrin Hatch, Chuck Grassley, Sheldon Whitehouse, Lamar Alexander, Chris Coons, John Kennedy, Kamala Harris, Bob Corker, Dick Durbin, Johnny Isakson, Patrick Leahy, Mike Crapo, Doug Jones, Thom Tillis, Bill Nelson, Shelley Moore Capito and David Perdue have done music creators a great service by sponsoring a music licensing package which will help not only songwriters and composers but also producers and legacy artists. The bill improves both how and how much songwriters are paid while increasing transparency and enabling digital music platforms to thrive. The MMA represents unprecedented consensus around necessary updates to how music creators are valued, and we look forward to seeing it become law.”
Elizabeth Matthew, American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers CEO
“After a unanimous vote to pass the MMA in the House, we are thrilled to see such ardent, bipartisan support for music creators in the Senate. This legislation is critical to ensuring songwriters have a pathway to fair compensation so they can sustain their livelihoods and create the next great songs. We applaud the leadership of fellow songwriter Senator Hatch, along with Senators Alexander and Whitehouse, for spearheading this effort in the Senate and to Chairman Grassley and all other co-sponsors for being champions of American songwriters. We look forward to the Senate’s vote and eventual passage of the MMA.”
Michael Beckerman, President and CEO of Internet Association
“It’s past time we brought mechanical licensing into the digital era. An updated mechanical licensing system will promote innovation, benefit consumers, and ensure artists are fairly compensated for their works. We commend Chairman Hatch, Chairman Grassley and the other MMA sponsors for taking on this critical issue and modernizing music streaming in a meaningful way.”
Mike O’Neill, Broadcast Music Inc. President & CEO
“BMI applauds the introduction today, by Senators Hatch and Grassley, of the Music Modernization Act. This legislation represents an unprecedented collaboration among music creators and users, and represents an historic opportunity to make meaningful music licensing reform which will benefit America’s creative communities."
Mitch Glazier, Recording Industry Association of America President
“The strong momentum behind these common sense music licensing reforms continues to build, and that’s very encouraging news to the entire music community. We are stronger together. We’re grateful for the leadership of Senators Hatch, Grassley, Feinstein, Kennedy, Coons, Alexander and all of the cosponsors who have brought this legislation in the Senate, along with musician advocates and our digital partners who have worked tirelessly to forge this consensus package. Today we are one step closer to realizing a more just music marketplace for artists, songwriters, and their label and publisher partners.”
Chris Harrison, DiMA, the Digital Media Association CEO
“Streaming music services create better value for consumers, creators and copyright owners. We welcome the introduction of the Music Modernization Act in the Senate, and thank Senators Hatch (R-Utah), Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Coons (D-Del.), in addition to Chairman Grassley (R-Iowa), for their efforts to bring the entire music industry together on a positive path forward. By turning away from a complicated and broken system of the past, the music industry has an opportunity to harness the power of greater efficiency and transparency to benefit consumers and creators alike.”
Michael Huppe, SoundExchange President and CEO
“On behalf of the 150,000+ music creators represented by SoundExchange, we are grateful to Senator Hatch for building this consensus legislative package that will benefit the entire music ecosystem. Taken together, the elements of this legislation will strengthen and protect the rights and interests of creators—the artists, songwriters and producers whose music enriches our lives, and it will improve engagement between the creative community and the digital services whose businesses rely on their work. We look forward to working with the sponsors and the entire community of stakeholders that built accord on this package to make it law.”
- Music Modernization Act (MMA):
- The MMA creates a new, simplified licensing system to make it easier for digital music companies to obtain a license for songs.
- The simplified system will also ensure songwriters are paid the royalties they are owed.
- In addition, the bill revises outdated songwriter royalty standards to ensure songwriters are paid a fair market rate for their work.
- Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, & Important Contributions to Society (CLASSICS) Act:
- In the 1970s, Congress extended federal copyright protections to sound recordings fixed after February 1972.
- The CLASSICS Act requires digital music services to pay for the use of pre-1972 sound recordings in the same way and at the same rate they pay for recordings fixed after 1972.
- SoundExchange, the entity that collects and distributes digital performance royalties for sound recordings, will collect royalties for pre-1972 recordings, as it does for recordings made after 1972.
- Allocation for Music Producers (AMP) Act:
- Under current law, although recording artists have a right to a percentage of the royalties collected for digital performances of sound recordings, producers and engineers have no such right.
- The AMP Act would establish a procedure for producers and engineers who worked on sound recordings to apply for a share of the royalties.