Rep. Doug Collins and the Recording Academy's Daryl Friedman
Photo: Paul Morigi/WireImage.com
The Music Modernization Act officially passed the U.S. House of Representative today, winning its first battle for legislative approval on the House floor with a unanimous 415–0 vote. Having previously passed mark-up by the House Judiciary Committee on April 11 with a unanimous 32–0 vote of approval, the MMA arrived at the House with a mandate from the masses that Congress enact equitable reforms in the music industry.
"Sometimes big pieces of legislation can come together only through the efforts of a large number of people who invest their time in making change happen, as so many members of this committee and so many stakeholders in the music and digital delivery communities have done," said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) during the committee's mark-up.
Just last week, the Recording Academy hosted the 2018 GRAMMYs On The Hill Awards gala, bringing together a who's who of Capitol Hill heavyweights and music creators. The combined forces not only celebrated the power of advocacy, creativity and music but pushed forward the momentum for the MMA.
"Music creators compose the soundtrack to our lives. These creators deserve to be paid a fair wage for their work," said Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow. "The passage of the Music Modernization Act in the House of Representatives is a historic step forward for all music creators, ensuring that they are credited, paid, and shown the respect they deserve for the impact they have on our culture and daily life. We are honored that GRAMMYs on the Hill helped to pave the way for these long overdue updates."
"Last week, GRAMMYs on the Hill brought the stories of artists, composers, producers, and songwriters to Washington, sharing the challenges of their industry and the robust solutions provided by the Music Modernization Act," added honoree Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.). "The Recording Academy and an array of stakeholders have helped a bipartisan group of legislators protect an American art form, and I'm grateful for the consensus that was reflected in today's vote."
Looking forward, a happy ending for music creators would be a bill signing ceremony at the White House before the end of this year. However, before that can come to fruition, the bill will next proceed to the U.S. Senate, with the burden now on our nation's senators to make the right choice to protect music creators and update the laws that prevent music creators from being fairly compensated for their creative works.
Reps. Bob Goodlatte and Jerrold Nadler
Photo: Sean Zanni/WireImage.com
The Recording Academy has been trumpeting the Music Modernization Act a lot lately, and for good reason. Since rumors broke on the comprehensive bill in January, which garnered historic support from the far reaches of the music industry, the Academy has remained optimistic and enthusiastic that the MMA would pass Congress this year. Now, that dream is one step closer to becoming a reality.
On April 10 House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and 29 additional members of the House of Representatives introduced the MMA. Today, the bill, H.R. 5447, went to the House Judiciary Committee for markup, where it passed unanimously with a vote of 32–0 following review.
From here, the MMA will proceed to the full House for a vote in the near future, and then attention turns to the Senate who will be tasked with considering similar, comprehensive reforms. A Senate Judiciary hearing and markup on music licensing reform is anticipated in the next few months.
The MMA marks a historic step forward for music legislation, which hasn't been updated in a generation. The comprehensive package combines three previous bills, including a songwriter-focused Music Modernization Act (H.R. 4706), which establishes an independent board to handle mechanical royalties while offering digital music services a "safe harbor" from copyright infringement lawsuits.
It also includes the CLASSICS Act (H.R. 3301), which requires digital services to pay for songs recorded prior to 1972, and the Allocation for Music Producers Act (H.R. 881), which codifies into law the way that producers and engineers get paid royalties for their work on sound recordings.
The current version of the MMA has also adopted a feature of the Fair Play Fair Pay Act (H.R. 1836) to update how the Copyright Royalty Board determines the rate digital services pay for recordings.
The Music Modernization Act is the first major update to our music licensing laws in decades. Will help ensure American music creators are properly recognized and rewarded for their works, and is vital to promoting American creativity and innovation in the digital age.
— Bob Goodlatte (@RepGoodlatte) April 10, 2018
"This legislation, which is the first major update to our music licensing laws in decades, brings early 20th century music laws for the analog era into the 21st Century digital era," said Goodlatte.
"I look forward to working with [Chairman Goodlatte], and all those who made this bill a reality, to see that it is enacted into law," added Nadler.
"We are thrilled to celebrate the introduction of the Music Modernization Act," Neil Portnow, President and CEO of the Recording Academy told Billboard. "This historic bill has been a goal of the Recording Academy for several years as it unites the music community under one piece of legislation and provides meaningful updates to copyright law to help all music creators.
"This collaboration is the kind of work that changes the game for the music industry. Congress is recognizing the impact and cultural significance of work before 1972, while paving the way for the next generation of music creators."
Photo: Eric Thayer/Getty Images
Are you looking to make a different kind of New Year's resolution for 2018?
If you're a music creator, how about making educating yourself on important issues affecting the music community a top priority?
Of course, sometimes it's difficult to keep your ear to the ground with regard to what's happening in our nation's capital and how it affects music creators.
From midterm elections, key departures and new appointments to music licensing, consent decrees and funding for the arts, here is a handy list of seven key music-and-advocacy storylines to keep your eye on in the Year of the Dog — straight from our Washington, D.C., Advocacy & Public Policy office.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and a key supporter of intellectual property, will retire at the close of 2018.
In recent years, the Virginian conducted hearings on the state of our nation's copyright laws in addition to helming policy proposals that called for changes to the Copyright Office. Alongside Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and GRAMMY winner Alicia Keys, he was honored by the Recording Academy at the 2015 GRAMMYs on the Hill Awards.
"This is a natural stepping-off point and an opportunity to begin a new chapter of my career and spend more time with my family, particularly my granddaughters," said Goodlatte, a 13-term Congressman who has served as the committee's chairman for the last five years.
Goodlatte's departure begs the question: Which Republican will emerge as the front-runner for the party's top seat on the House Judiciary Committee?
Speaking of races, it's the biggest political question of the year. What's going to happen with the midterm elections on Nov. 6, 2018?
Depending on your news outlet of choice, the predictions are likely as varied as the GRAMMYs' 84 categories. While this past year has been eventful as far as politics go, it's difficult to prognosticate what the national political landscape will be like next November. But the facts remain: All 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives and 33 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate are up for grabs, and that looming uncertainty could shape the legislative agenda over the next 12 months.
On Dec. 20 Rep. Jerrold Nadler emerged victorious in the race for the top Democratic spot on the House Judiciary Committee. Nadler bested challenger Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) by a final count of 118 to 72.
Nadler's appointment, which fills the seat vacated by former Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), could bode well for the music community this year. The former GRAMMYs on the Hill honoree is a longtime champion for music creators with credibility on music licensing issues thanks to his many years of experience as the leading Democrat on the House of Representatives' Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet.
"The Recording Academy looks forward to working with the Congressman in his prestigious position to advance this important legislation and advocate for a sustainable future for all music creators," said The Recording Academy's Daryl P. Friedman.
Several music licensing reform bills have been introduced into the House of Representatives, making 2018 ripe for action. First, the Allocation For Music Producers (AMP) Act would ensure how producers and engineers get paid by codifying into law, for the first time, the producer's right to collect the royalties they are due and by formalizing SoundExchange's current voluntary policy.
Meanwhile, the Compensating Legacy Artists For Their Songs, Service And Important Contributions To Society (CLASSICS) Act would bring pre-1972 recordings into the federal copyright system and ensure that digital transmissions of both pre and post-1972 recordings receive the same treatment — allowing rights holders an avenue to protect their copyrights and get paid for their work.
Both the AMP Act and the CLASSICS Act are also contained in the Fair Play Fair Pay Act, a more comprehensive reform measure that would modernize laws governing sound recordings, including the establishment of a domestic public performance right for broadcasts of recordings on terrestrial radio. Fair Play Fair Pay ensures that all broadcasted recordings, regardless of platform or date released, receive the same federal copyright protections and have the ability to collect royalties.
And just weeks ago, the Music Modernization Act was introduced with bipartisan and industry support to update antiquated laws that govern songwriters. The bill ensures songwriters are paid when digital platforms use their music, while also improving transparency, providing better royalty rates, and giving songwriters more involvement over their mechanical rights.
As we move into the New Year, these important pieces of legislation would better standardize music licensing rules for music creators, creating a more level playing field for musical works currently protected by copyright laws.
Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts provides federal funding to artists and organizations making outstanding cultural contributions to the U.S. This funding has allowed music and the others arts to flourish nationwide, creating jazz festivals, choral events and providing at-risk students enrichment opportunities, among many other projects.
"The modest support that we provide to music and the arts is returned many times over, whether measured in jobs and economic impact, or sheer cultural enrichment and introspection," said Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow in May 2017.
Under the current administration, funding of the agency remains at risk. In March 2017, President Donald Trump's proposed federal budget would have eliminated the NEA, which would create a huge deficit in funding for arts programs that help sustain our country's healthy arts and economic ecosystem, which generates $166 billion in revenue and 4.6 million jobs across multiple industries, according to a 2017 study.
Advocates of the arts have helped protect the NEA thus far, with bipartisan Congressional support pushing to fully fund the agency for the current Fiscal Year. Later this month, Congress aims to pass a full spending bill that would include NEA funding, but experts predict that the president could propose similar cuts for his Fiscal Year 2019 budget. If you believe in the value of the arts, visit our Advocacy Action page to learn how you can make a difference.
Strength in numbers. That's the underlying thought behind the Recording Academy's District Advocate Day, the largest grassroots initiative for music in the nation.
More than 1,000 music creators, across all 50 states, united on Oct. 18 for the 2017 installment with the mission of addressing a range of key legislative issues affecting the music industry with congressional offices in their home districts. Lawmakers from California to New York were peppered with discussions about improving outdated laws, modernizing copyright protections, protecting songwriters and composers, and advocating for the next generation of music makers.
Look for news on the official date for the 2018 District Advocate Day, which is tentatively slated for October. This year's campaign will carry an even greater importance given it will precede the aforementioned November midterm elections.
The consent decrees that govern performing rights organizations ASCAP and BMI are sorely in need of a refresh since they haven't changed much since 1941. This year, the Department of Justice that governs these regulations has a new frontman, Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim.
As the new head of the antitrust department, Delrahim brings with him a philosophical outlook that seems to include an understanding that many of our outdated consent decrees need an update to stay on par with dramatically changed markets and technologies.
"We're thinking hard about ways that consent decrees can be improved," Delrahim said during his keynote speech at the American Bar Association in November 2017. "Believe it or not, we have nearly 1,300 judgments in effect, with some that are well over 100 years old. One dates to 1891. My favorite is the one pertaining to music rolls, still protecting consumers against the ills of anticompetitive behavior in the mechanical organ market. … Do you see what I mean about static solutions to the realities of dynamic markets?"
While it remains to be seen how Delrahim's favoring of less regulation could impact the consent decrees that impact PROs and music royalty payments, it does seem that he has his eye on updating outdated laws, which could be to music creator's benefit.
"I would note that only one week ago GRAMMYs on the Hill brought hundreds of artists to DC to explain to their own Members of Congress how important an updated licensing system is to them. This bill delivers that for them, just one day before World Intellectual Property Day, when we recognize the value of intellectual property and those who create it." — House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.); Conversations In Advocacy #17
Music is engaging the public like never before. Now, thanks to unprecedented engagement by music's advocates, we are one step closer to a momentous breakthrough for copyright reform.
When the House Judiciary Committee held a special field hearing in New York City on copyright reform during GRAMMY Week 2018, it was the hope of legislators and music creators testifying that separate bills supported by creative stakeholders would be consolidated into a copyright reform omnibus package. The new Music Modernization Act, H.R. 5447, introduced on April 10 by Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) made good on exactly that.
On April 18, the GRAMMYs on the Hill Awards, followed by Advocacy Day on April 19, gave GRAMMY winners and elected lawmakers a chance to compare notes — and they were singing the same tune. Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), who introduced the previous, songwriter-focused version of the MMA, said the reason to fight to protect the music industry is so the hopes and dreams of music's many stakeholders will "continue to be part of the fabric of America."
"To our advocates here tonight, I can tell you that your years of lobbying together have paid off," said Recording Academy Chief Industry, Government and Member Relations Officer Daryl P. Friedman. "Songwriters, artists and producers have supported one another and now Congress has a bill that will support you all."
Not only did H.R. 5447 pass out of the House Judiciary Committee with unanimous support, on April 25 it passed the House of Representatives by a second unanimous vote of 415-0. Many representatives spoke to the moment's importance and their remarks can be seen on Facebook and Twitter or in the Congressional Record.
The House just passed the #MusicModernizationAct by a bipartisan vote of 415-0. This is a historic step toward ensuring the music industry can continue to flourish by modernizing our music copyright laws so music creators are fairly compensated for their works. pic.twitter.com/gjDAmpjCbS
— Bob Goodlatte (@RepGoodlatte) April 25, 2018
"I am on safe ground when I say that this bill fits right into the perfect sweet spot on both timing and substance," said Chairman Goodlatte.
The bill's unanimous passage confirmed and reinforced his statement.
Reach out to let your senators know you are part of the bipartisan community of advocates ready to take the next step. Music is more important than ever to our 24/7-connected world, and the Senate is now able to bank the years of work that went into crafting the new MMA and make 2018 copyright reform into U.S. law. We are all-in. Stand with us now and raise your voice, too.
"Conversations in Advocacy" is your weekend digital tip sheet on the policies that affect music makers and their craft. New installments post every Friday.