It is a historic day for music creators. Today, June 28, 2018, the Music Modernization Act unanimously passed the U.S. House of Representatives, paving the way for improved royalties to songwriters, artists and creators.
The bill, HR 5477, passed with a unanimous vote of 415. It was originally introduced by co-sponsors Robert Goodlatte (R-VA) and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). Goodlate stated that the bill “brings early 20th-century music laws for the analog era into the 21st-century digital era” and that “music is no longer written on piano rolls, and our laws shouldn’t be based on that technology either.”
The so-called mega-act updates licensing and royalty rules for streaming, giving royalties to songwriters and artists on songs recorded prior to 1972, and awards new rights to music producers and mixers. Digital Service Providers, such as Spotify and Apple Music, will work together with publishers to manage licenses in a newly refreshed process.
The act introduces a blanket license and an agency to assign rights and collect royalty payments and performance reports from DSPs to ensure proper royalty payments for appropriate parties moving forward. Outdated laws have been in place for a while, making the passing of the act a celebrated moment in history by many music industry professionals.
“We are excited that the Music Modernization Act was passed by the House today, as it brings us one step closer to finally achieving meaningful music licensing reform that will benefit America’s creative community,” stated Mike O’Neill, BMI President and CEO. “This vital legislation reflects an unprecedented collaboration among music creators and users, and we look forward to it moving to the Senate where we are optimistic it will be met with the same enthusiasm.”
The bill stresses to improve a dysfunctional mechanical licensing system, ensure royalty protection for pre-1972 performances, provide a statutory right to recognition for creators and fix the lack of a unified rate standard for music royalties.
Another key provision of the bill is for Congress to establish the equivalent of a SoundExchange for songwriters to track credits and distribute royalties when digital services use their work, which was previously impossible due to a pre-1972 loophole.
The MMA is a huge victory moving forward, ensuring that songwriters, publishers, sound engineers, mixers and all other creators are recognized and properly paid for their work.
Read more about the bill’s passing at Rolling Stone.