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Senate Judiciary Committee Unanimously Passes Music Modernization Act

The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously voted to approve the Music Modernization Act on Thursday, paving the way for improved royalty payments to songwriters, artists and creatives in the digital era.  The vote follows last month’s unanimous approval of similar legislation by the House of Representatives, and clears the way for the full Senate to consider the act.

As in the House, the new Senate bill combines three separate pieces of legislation:

– The Music Modernization Act of 2018, S.2334, introduced by Hatch and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) in January, which updates licensing and royalties as pertains to streaming.

– The CLASSICS Act (or Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, & Important Contributions to Society Act), introduced in February by Chris Coons (D-DE) and John Kennedy (R-LA) to ensure that songwriters and artists receive royalties on pre-1972 songs.

– The AMP Act (or Allocation for Music Producers Act), introduced in March by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley(R-LA) and ranking committee member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA.) with the support of and Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Kamala Harris (D-CA).

Upon the passage, RIAA President Mitch Glazier commented: “We are grateful that the Senate Judiciary Committee has taken the next vital step to advance the Music Modernization Act.  Music speaks to all parties, all people, in all places. And when a community comes together as we have done, with no segment getting everything they want but recognizing injustice and working toward a common goal, anything is possible. We welcome the momentum surrounding this bill and thank Senators Grassley, Feinstein, Hatch, Coons, Kennedy and all of the cosponsors, for leading the charge in the Senate to right a long-standing wrong with the CLASSICS Act. We look forward to Senate passage of the entire MMA, and this crucial bill finally becoming law.”

National Music Publishers Association President & CEO David Israelite said: “Today’s vote is a huge step towards the Music Modernization Act becoming law. We are pleased that the MMA as approved by the Committee builds upon the fundamental compromise between music creators and digital services that will greatly benefit songwriters. With the many important stakeholders involved, it is no small feat for the MMA to have made it this far, and once the MMA is signed into law, songwriters will see more of the money they deserve from streaming services who currently operate off of laws from 1909 and consent decrees from 1941. We thank Chairman Grassley, Ranking Member Feinstein, Senator Hatch, Senator Whitehouse, Senator Alexander, and all of the Senators who have supported MMA for their leadership in helping those behind the music and their steadfast commitment to updating laws that are egregiously behind the times. We look forward to seeing the full Senate pass the MMA.”

Recording Academy chief Neil Portnow said: “Great music comes from great harmonies. As the organization representing all creators, we are gratified to see the industry and Congress work in harmony to pass the Music Modernization Act through the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Following years of advocacy by music creators, we look forward to that momentum continuing as the Music Modernization Act heads to the Senate floor. We thank the Committee for its swift movement of the bill. Through collaboration we can truly make a difference for the hundreds of thousands of working music creators across the country.”

ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews said: “ASCAP thanks Chairman Grassley for bringing the Music Modernization Act to mark up and to Senators Hatch, Alexander and Whitehouse for being such stalwart champions of songwriters. We are happy to see this legislation move forward with such broad bi-partisan support. While there is still more work to be done to create a fair environment for songwriters in the digital age, we hope the Senate will move swiftly to pass a version of this bill that preserves the much needed benefits for music creators.”

BMI president and CEO Mike O’Neill said: “Today’s vote is an important step towards achieving meaningful music licensing reform that will benefit America’s songwriters, composers and publishers.  The MMA, if enacted, will help ensure that music creators are compensated fairly for their work.  We applaud the unprecedented collaboration across our industry that helped move this bill forward and thank the full Senate Judiciary Committee, particularly Chairman Grassley, Ranking Member Feinstein, and longtime songwriter advocate Senator Hatch, for their leadership and support of this extremely important piece of legislation.”

Chris Harrison, CEO of the Digital Media Association, which represents a number of music streaming companies, said: “The Music Modernization Act grew stronger in the Senate and remains a bright, bipartisan light for an industry that is ready to stream forward to a better future. DiMA applauds the Senate action and thanks Chairman Grassley, Ranking Member Feinstein and Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for their work to reform an outdated and inefficient music licensing system that no longer serves fans of music or creators. The Manager’s Amendment brings greater transparency and makes it easier for songwriters and copyright owners to verify the accuracy of royalty payments made, while ensuring the efficient and cost-effective operation of the Mechanical Licensing Collective. Streaming services have literally saved the music industry, delivering better experiences at a better value, and growing revenue for creators. We are glad to see Congress is looking to the streaming future, and moving away from the music mess of the past.”

SoundExchange president/CEO Michael Huppe said: “Today, lawmakers continued to make progress on legislation that will result in the most comprehensive music licensing reform in our lifetimes. Music creators have waited long enough for Congress to reform our nation’s outdated copyright laws. Now it’s time for the full Senate to vote on the Music Modernization Act and send a bill to the president for his signature.”

Michael Eames, President of the Association of Independent Music Publishers (AIMP); Alisa Coleman, AIMP New York Executive Director; and John Ozier, AIMP Nashville Executive Director, issued a joint statement:“The AIMP applauds the Senate Judiciary Committee’s unanimous passage of the Music Modernization Act (MMA), putting the much-needed legislation one step closer to being enacted. With support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, plus unprecedented cooperation between the music and technology industries, the MMA will update the music licensing system for today’s online world and correct long-standing problems that have denied songwriters and publishers full control over their works. In particular, independent publishers and songwriters would benefit from a more modern and realistic rate standard, a central public database to ease royalty payments from digital services, removing evidence limitations placed on rights-holders arguing for more accurate royalty rates, allowing PROs to be heard by more than the same two judges, and once and for all establishing that digital services must pay for the use of pre-1972 recordings. We encourage the full Senate to take up and pass this legislation as soon as possible.”

In a statement that requires no introduction: “Songwriters of North America (SONA), along with the hundreds of songwriters and composers that comprise our membership, is thrilled with the unanimous passage of the Music Modernization Act in the Senate Judiciary Committee.  We are now one step closer to bringing music licensing into the 21st century. SONA encourages the Senate to move swiftly and pass this bill without diluting the long overdue benefits it will provide for music creators, ensuring that the art of the American songwriter will continue to proudly flourish for generations to come.”

 

 

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