In a major win for recording artists all over the country, the Music Modernization Act has been signed into law by President Trump. The act helps update copyright laws to align with the advancements of the digital era. In short, the act has three main pieces of legislation, which help artists get paid easier when
After a lengthy process and a fair amount of music industry squabbling, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Music Modernization Act on September 19.
The MMA was developed as a direct response to a rapidly changing and shifting music industry that’s still sprinting to catch up to the upheaval caused by streaming services and the shift in how digital royalties are accumulated and ultimately paid. The act will bring immediate changes including royalties for artists and songwriters on songs recorded before 1972, allocating additional royalties for music producers; and updating streaming service licensing and royalty rules to better and more easily pay rights-holders.
Overall, it means the piece of the modern music industry pie for creators and labels gets a little bit bigger. Orrin Hatch, the senator from Utah who championed the bill’s push through Congress, was quick to point out how much more change the music industry still needs in a statement. Says Hatch,
“With this bill, we are one step closer to historic reform for our badly outdated music laws. That the MMA is a boon to creators in the music industry is true. However, the long and internally contentious path to make just three modest changes to copyright rules highlights one reason why more hasn’t been done.”
The Music Modernization Act (MMA) has passed unanimously in the Senate Judiciary Committee, taking music creators a step closer to appropriate licensing and royalty rules for the streaming era. It now has to pass a full Senate vote before hitting the president’s desk.
The music copyright overhaul essentially partners Apple Music, Spotify, and publishers under a single licensing agency, streamlining the license management process. Songwriters and accredited artists will be paid out for songs recorded before 1972, while new rights will be granted to music producers and mixers. Older musicians who missed the streaming boom and studio engineers look to benefit here in the form of royalty checks coming their way if passed.
One of the most important facets of the bill is an overall standardization of payment rates between distribution services and rights-holders. It’s about time music law addressed the streaming industry because the current system is still set up for physical music copies.
Although the MMA has received criticism for its lack of consideration towards medium-sized business, most in the industry are in favor, seeing this as a long-awaited, financial organization of the current music landscape. D.I.Y. musicians, and musicians who own their own rights might still have trouble policing ineffective or inefficient licensing practices. More established artists, publishers, studio producers, and labels labels will benefit, giving them more time to focus on creating music and less time worrying about licensing and royalty structures. It’s a step in the right direction on this long trek towards fair compensation for music creators.