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As Digital Streaming Grows, Copyright Reform Becomes More Crucial
Streaming is here to stay. And while much of the life's work of songwriters, producers and artists is now available at our fingertips — and accessible from virtually anywhere — these music creators are not properly compensated on digital platforms. Outdated copyright laws continue to throttle creators' income streams while the digital world grows and flourishes.
Now, as Spotify announces its intentions to go public and Apple Music places their value at a cool $10 billion, the urgency for comprehensive copyright reform is at a fever pitch. Consumers expect access to their favorite music, contemporary and classic, and these streaming giants deliver. But payment for creators still has a long way to go, which is why the Recording Academy has been working to advance reforms that will bring compensation into the digital age for creators.
Recently, Universal Music Group finally pledged to share proceeds from the sale of its stock in Spotify, the last to join the other labels holding an interest in the streaming company on the brink of its IPO. Sony has also become to first of the major labels to promise to share revenues from sales of Spotify shares with the independent labels it distributes. In all, the three major labels, which along with indie label representative Merlin accounted for 87 percent of streams in 2017 according to Billboard, each hold an approximate 5 percent stake in Spotify, which could mean a new way for artists to see their rightful income from the growth of streaming.
But the business practices of any company cannot address the myriad of complex issues in play surrounding copyright in the digital age. Fortunately, several interlocking pieces of legislation have been advanced by the Recording Academy which, when combined, can create relevant, lasting changes to the way the modern music business operates.
For starters, the Fair Play Fair Pay Act will establish willing buyer/willing seller compensation standards for sound recordings across all digital platforms. The Music Modernization Act will bring antiquated copyright laws for songwriters and publishers into the digital era. Similarly, the CLASSICS Act will honor the creators of pre-1972 recordings with the same protection as modern recordings. The Allocations for Music Producers (AMP) Act will extend rights to producers, ensuring the men and women at the core of the creative process can collect the royalties due to them.
These copyright reform measures protect and support the interests of all parties — creators, streaming services, and consumers — as they would foster proper compensation to music creators and allow listeners to keep the music playing for years to come.