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Music Modernization Act Approved by House Judiciary Committee; Steven Tyler, Execs Weigh In

The United States House Judiciary Committee voted unanimously today (32-0) to approve the Music Modernization Act. The act combines key provisions of what were four separate legislative initiatives into a single bill that will update how music rates are set and how songwriters and artists are paid. The bill now awaits consideration by the full House of Representatives.

A key provision of the bill (HR 5477) is for Congress to establish the equivalent of a SoundExchange for songwriters to track credits and distribute royalties when digital services use their work. The switch to a market-based rate standard for artists and writers, closing the pre-1972 loophole that denied digital compensation to legacy artists and the addition of copyright royalties for producers and engineers are other changes widely hailed as improvements by a wide range of industry organizations, from the Recording Academy and the RIAA to ASCAP, BMI, the American Association of Independent Music and the American Federation of Musicians.

The legislation appears to be on a fast track, with the Senate expected to introduce its version next month, paving the way for President Trump’s signature. Although the bill has bi-partisan support, the legislation’s provisions – which have advanced piecemeal in various bills over the past four years – have a free-market thrust popular with Republicans over the years, which means it is unlikely to meet with executive branch opposition.

Aerosmith cofounder Steven Tyler said:  “I am ecstatic and relieved that the House Judiciary passed the Music Modernization Act out of committee today and onto the House floor, then onto the Senate. I am a proud member of Songwriters of North America and we are changing these outdated laws that unfairly hold down songwriters and other music creators from being paid fairly. [Attorney] Dina LaPolt, who brought this issue to my attention years ago, has been my partner in copyright reform and together, we have spent years advocating and fighting for this. Justice will finally be served!”

Supremes cofounder Mary Wilson said: “We are one step closer to a new day when artists like me who recorded music before 1972 are paid for those digital radio streams under federal law. It’s critical we get this bill over the finish line – the greatest generation of music deserves to be paid for our work, regardless of when it was made! I urge all Members of Congress to support this important legislation.”

RIAA CEO Cary Sherman said: “As this historic legislation begins to advance through Congress, we move one step closer to the finish line.  A unanimous vote should send unmistakable signal to lawmakers in both chambers:  this package of reforms enjoys deep, bipartisan support.  And for good reason –  this bill is result of thoughtful, extensive examination of the patchwork of antiquated music licensing laws that poorly serve creators.  This includes the unintended and unfair quirk in the law that denies legacy artists the federal right to be compensated by digital radio services.  We are grateful for the stewardship of Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Nadler, as well as Representatives Issa, Johnson, Collins, Jeffries, Smith, and Deutch, who all have been tireless advocates for this important legislation. We now look to the House floor, and urge all Members of Congress to advance this bill to help make these critical reforms a reality.”

National Music Publishers Association president/CEO David Israelite said: “The House Judiciary Committee’s approval of the Music Modernization Act (MMA) is a critical step towards finally fixing the system to pay songwriters what they deserve. We greatly appreciate the committee’s attention to helping music creators, specifically Chairman Goodlatte, Ranking Member Nadler, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, and a special thanks to Congressman Doug Collins for being the driving force behind the MMA. There is unprecedented consensus and momentum behind this bill, and we look forward to seeing it soon pass the full House.”

ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews said: “Today’s reintroduction of the Music Modernization Act signals we are one step closer to reforming our outdated music licensing system and providing songwriters a better future. We thank Chairman Goodlatte, Ranking Member Nadler and Reps. Collins and Jeffries for their leadership and keeping America’s songwriters a priority.”

Recording Academy Chief Industry, Government & Membership Relations Officer Daryl Friedman said: “After years of effort to modernize, the time has come. This bill has strong bipartisan support and we expect there will be Senate movement in May.  As technology changes there will continue to be incremental legislation and tweaks, but this is broad enough, and substantial enough where we think this is our generation’s major change for music. No matter what happens in technology, the MMA will be able to address payments to creators much more effectively than the present system. It’s a very consequential bill and we are thrilled it has hit one week before Grammys on the Hill. Our advocates are ready to hit the House and Senate and lobby on this to make sure we have final passage.”

 

 

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