More than 20 prominent music organizations representing U.S. music publishers, record labels, songwriters, composers, artists and performance rights organizations today formally announced their united support for pending music bills, paving the way for a unified piece of music legislation for 2018. The joint statement is notable in that it indicates consensus from writers, performers and digital services sides for three of the four high-profile music bills. Notably omitted is the Fair Play Fair Pay Act and reference to radio performance royalties for artists, something the National Association of Broadcasters fiercely opposes.
“The Music Modernization Act has achieved the support of both the digital music companies and the writer publishing groups, creating a consensus that we believe will drive comprehensive music legislation,” David Israelite, president and CEO of the National Music Publishers Association, told Variety. “We think the path is cleared for all four of these issues to be combined into a unified industry package.” Chris Harrison, CEO of the Digital Media Association (DiMA) which represents Spotify, YouTube, Amazon and other DSPs said last month when the bill was introduced, “We support the Music Modernization Act because it would create a blanket license, which is critical to a modern licensing system and a great step forward.”
Today’s announcement creates momentum that the music industry is aligned and ready to move forward with a unified voice to pass law this year, even if it means tabling new artist performance royalties for future battle (although artists who write songs will benefit). The excluded Fair Play Fair Pay act proposes to provide royalties to performers for terrestrial radio airplay. The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that does not provide this performer compensation. On Jan. 26 the House Judiciary Committee will hold a field hearing on music issues at Fordham University in New York, timed to Grammy week.
Lending support in a joint press release issued by the NMPA are The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), the Recording Academy, the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), the Songwriters of North America (SONA), The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI), the Production Music Association (PMA), the Church Music Publishers Association (CMPA), the Music Publishers Association (MPA), the Council of Music Creators (CMC), the Society of Composers and Lyricists (SCL), MusicAnswers, the American Federation of Musicians (AFM), SAG-AFTRA, the Association of Independent Music Publishers (AIMP), SoundExchange, SX Works, the Administrators of Gospel Music (AGM), the Content Creators Coalition and the Music Managers Forum U.S., who officially endorsed:
- The Music Modernization Act of 2017
- The CLASSICS Act
- The AMP Act
- A market-based rate standard for artists from satellite radio
The organizations also strongly support successfully resolving the lack of a terrestrial performance right to provide what they feel is fair compensation for sound recordings. Music community leaders say it is essential to work together and support related reforms, especially now that Congress is expected to consider and advance legislation in 2018.
The Music Modernization Act reforms Section 115 of the U.S. Copyright Act to create a single licensing entity that administers the mechanical reproduction rights for all digital uses of musical compositions, such those used in interactive streaming models offered by Apple, Spotify, Amazon, Pandora, Google and others, according to a release from the National Music Publishers Association. It also reforms Section 114 to improve the rate court process for ASCAP and BMI.
The CLASSICS Act (Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, & Important Contributions to Society Act) would benefit artists and music creators who recorded music before 1972 by establishing royalty payments whenever their music is played on digital radio. SoundExchange would distribute royalties for pre-’72 recordings played by Internet, cable and satellite radio services just as it does for post-’72 recordings. Currently only sound recordings made after 1972 receive payments from digital radio services under federal law.
The AMP Act (Allocation for Music Producers Act) for the first time adds producers and engineers, who play an indispensable role in the creation of sound recordings, to U.S. copyright law.
Statements in support of the acts follow in full:
NMPA President & CEO David Israelite: “Today is truly a new day for songwriters and artists. We are all coming together to support each other’s efforts to modernize and bring fairness to how music creators are paid. Music has value – and that value is not reflected in the way songwriters and artists are treated under century-old laws that have not kept pace with technology. Right now, there is unprecedented momentum behind efforts to fix outdated laws that prevent music creators from earning what they deserve, and I am thrilled to say that publishers, songwriters, composers, labels, artists and PROs stand together to fix them.”
RIAA President Mitch Glazier: “2018 is the year for Congress to enact many long-studied proposals that will make our country’s music licensing system fairer for artists, songwriters and their label and publisher partners. A unified music community is essential if we are to take advantage of this once-in-a-generation opportunity. We encourage the Judiciary Committees to begin advancing these common-sense provisions that modernize the music licensing system, and provide fair, market-based compensation to all music creators for their property and work.”
Recording Academy CEO Neil Portnow: “For years, our creator membership has sought a holistic approach to update music licensing. Artists, songwriters, producers and engineers have each advocated for their fellow creators because we’re all in this together. Today, our industry unites in the same manner to support a comprehensive slate of legislative issues that will improve the environment for music makers, music services, and music fans. As we prepare to celebrate music at the GRAMMYs, we can celebrate this important milestone as well.”
A2IM CEO Richard James Burgess: “The recorded music industry speaks with one voice in support of the Music Modernization Act and to further rationalize copyright law. This legislation brings us one step closer to our goal of creators and copyright owners being compensated fairly for all uses of their work. We applaud Mr. Collins and Mr. Jeffries for introducing this bill, Mr. Issa and Mr. Nadler for the CLASSICS Act, and Mr. Rooney and Mr. Crowley for the AMP Act. We urge Congress to move forward on these important reforms, to seek market rates for all music streaming, and to demand that American artists be paid for terrestrial radio performances.”
Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) Executive Director Bart Herbison: “Songs are written and songs are sung. Music industry trade groups who represent songwriters and artists coming together to fully support bills to benefit all music creators is monumental. Congress will soon consider a variety of measures to significantly advance fair market compensation for creators. Our show of unity should encourage them to pass the most significant copyright reforms in more than a generation.”
Songwriters of North America (SONA) Executive Director Michelle Lewis: “These historic pieces of legislation constitute an exciting first step towards unifying songwriters, artists, producers, labels, and publishers with the digital platforms that deliver music to consumers. On behalf of our community of songwriters and composers, SONA is happy to support the shift towards fair compensation for all music creators.”
ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews: “Music is the essential ingredient in the success of companies that deliver music to listeners. The songwriters, composers and artists who make that music deserve to be treated fairly under our copyright laws. The Music Modernization Act, the Classics Act and the AMP Act are all reasonable and sensible reforms that bring our nation’s outdated laws into the modern world. We stand together as a community to advocate for the music creators and artists who enrich our lives everyday with their incredible talent and hard work.”
BMI President & CEO Michael O’Neill: “BMI supports strengthening Copyright protections for all American music creators. We are proud to be a part of this unique coalition of music creators, music advocates, and music users, in support of this legislation which brings 21st-century protections to all.”
SoundExchange President & CEO Michael Huppe: “SoundExchange is pleased to join other industry voices banding together on behalf of all music creators to advocate for meaningful change to the laws driving how music is valued. All creators of music deserve to be fairly paid for the use of their work, regardless of the platform or their place in the creative process. Working together, across the industry and across the aisle, on a shared agenda of legislative solutions is the best way forward to fix our system.”
SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White: “SAG-AFTRA represents the sound recording performers – including royalty artists and session vocalists, whose creative work brings American music to life. An update to the music licensing landscape to reflect the new digital age of music consumption, and recognition of the immeasurable value of our cherished pre-1972 sound recording performers, are both long overdue. We join with our industry colleagues in thanking representatives Nadler, Collins, Jeffries, Issa, Rooney and Crowley for their foresight and their leadership. These legislative initiatives better serve the artists at the heart of the creative works that provide so much cultural and economic value to this country. We look forward to seeing this legislation move forward, and we look forward to continuing our fight for fair compensation for sound recording artists on all music platforms, including terrestrial radio.”
AFM International President Ray Hair: We stand with all music creators seeking fairness, and urge Congress to act in 2018 to remedy the full range of inequities that harm creators under current law. Musicians welcome the support of the entire music community in urging Congress to enact a terrestrial performance right. It is time for Congress to end the loophole that deprives performers of fair pay for the use of their work on AM/FM radio.