Mu­sic in­dus­try hails pas­sage of the Mu­sic Mod­ern­iza­tion Act

Lodi News-Sentinel - - LOCAL/NATION - By Ran­dall Roberts and Randy Lewis

Amer­i­can pol­i­tics may be po­lar­ized, but a new law signed by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Thurs­day sug­gests that lib­er­als and con­ser­va­tives agree on the need for a bet­ter sys­tem to com­pen­sate mu­si­cians and song­writ­ers in the dig­i­tal era.

The Mu­sic Mod­ern­iza­tion Act, co-spon­sored by Sen. Or­rin Hatch, R-Utah, and Rep. Bob Good­latte, R-Va., is a re­sponse to the mod­ern world of mu­sic stream­ing and satel­lite ra­dio — plat­forms that did not ex­ist when laws gov­ern­ing roy­alty pay­ments to mu­sic cre­ators and li­cense hold­ers were drafted decades ago.

The com­pre­hen­sive mu­sic li­cens­ing bill cor­rects a num­ber of pre-dig­i­tal-era anachro­nisms. It cre­ates a new in­de­pen­dent en­tity that will li­cense songs to com­pa­nies that play mu­sic on­line, and then pay song­writ­ers, in­clud­ing those who re­leased hits decades ago be­fore fed­eral mu­sic copy­rights took ef­fect.

A broad coali­tion of mu­si­cians, mu­sic pub­lish­ers, song­writ­ers and broad­cast­ers who pushed for the leg­is­la­tion hailed its pas­sage as a his­toric achieve­ment for an in­dus­try that has long short­changed artists.

“As we cel­e­brate the har­mony and unity that got us here, we ap­plaud the ef­forts of the thou­sands of per­form­ers, song­writ­ers and stu­dio pro­fes­sion­als who ral­lied for his­toric change to en­sure all mu­sic cre­ators are com­pen­sated fairly when their work is used by dig­i­tal and satel­lite mu­sic ser­vices,” Record­ing Academy Pres­i­dent Neil Port­now said in a state­ment.

Af­ter re­ceiv­ing unan­i­mous ap­proval in the House and Se­nate, the mea­sure was signed into law by the pres­i­dent dur­ing a cer­e­mony at the White House that was also at­tended by rap­per and en­tre­pre­neur Kanye West, rap-rocker Kid Rock and Beach Boys found­ing mem­ber Mike Love.

“Our mu­sic li­cens­ing laws are con­vo­luted, out of date and don’t re­ward song­writ­ers fairly for their work,” said Hatch, who also is a mu­si­cian and song­writer. “They’ve also failed to keep up with re­cent, rapid changes in how Amer­i­cans pur­chase and lis­ten to mu­sic.”

As a con­se­quence, ar­gued pro­po­nents, song­writ­ers haven’t been prop­erly com­pen­sated for their in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty, ei­ther due to out­dated def­i­ni­tions or data in­ef­fi­cien­cies. The goal: “To make it eas­ier for mu­sic cre­ators to make a liv­ing,” as a state­ment from dig­i­tal ac­count­ing com­pany Sound Ex­change put it.

The new law “is the cul­mi­na­tion of a gar­gan­tuan strug­gle that was re­solved by an un­par­al­leled al­liance be­tween all mu­sic in­dus­try stake­hold­ers and the rel­e­vant tech com­pa­nies,” said Richard James Burgess, chief ex­ec­u­tive of A2IM, a coali­tion of in­de­pen­dent record com­pa­nies.

OLIVIER DOULIERY/ABACA PRESS

U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump re­acts as mu­si­cian Kid Rock speaks dur­ing a sign­ing cer­e­mony of the Mu­sic Mod­ern­iza­tion Act in the Roo­sevelt Room of the White House on Thurs­day in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

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