Booker T. Jones
Booker T. Jones Addresses House Reps. Over Reform Act For "Pre-1972" Recordings
Photo: Sean Zanni/WIREIMAGE.COM
How The Music Modernization Act Has Already Benefited Legacy Artists
One of the most talked-about benefits of the Music Modernization Act, which was signed into law on Oct. 11, 2018 and recently celebrated its one-year anniversary, has no doubt been the closure of the "pre-1972" loophole. Put simply, this means that digital services are now paying legacy artists for sound recordings fixed before Feb. 15, 1972.
Prior to the MMA being signed, the quirk in the law denied older artists from receiving compensation for their work and had to be eliminated to ensure level compensation regardless of when an artist first laid down a track. The Copyright Office issued final rules and regulations for "classic" recordings earlier this year, ensuring that sound recordings released prior to Feb. 15, 1972 are now treated the same as recordings released after that arbitrary date. The Recording Academy filed comments over the past year to the Copyright Office in its rulemaking on regulations to pay the older artists.
The law is already beginning to make a difference in the lives of so many legacy artists who stand to benefit. In the months since the MMA was passed, pre-'72 artists have recieved more than $10 million in royalties through SoundExchange. That's hard-earned money they've long deserved.
As one of the original endorsees of the CLASSICS Act back in 2017, the Recording Academy has a long legacy of supporting the elimination of those loopholes, including when former Academy trustee Booker T. Jones testified during a House Judiciary Committee hearing in 2018. "[B]ecause of a quirk in the law, many of our most timeless treasures …are dismissed and disrespected as not meriting compensation to the featured artists, non-featured artists, and producers," said Jones, speaking on behalf of himself and countless other legacy artists who are negatively affected by the copyright shortfall. Jones cited examples such as Otis Redding's "Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay" and Sam & Dave's "Soul Man" as examples of popular classics which digital services were free to use without royalty compensation.
While plenty of progress has been made regarding legacy musicians being paid, there is still work to be done. The Recording Academty remains an advocate of closing the AM/FM radio loophole that currently denies paying any artist. "To make it plain: The biggest and most profitable music platform in America—FM radio—with more than 200 million listeners and $17 billion in annual revenue, pays nothing to the people who record the music that is the lifeblood of their business. It never has—not a penny,” Three time GRAMMY winner Common and SoundExchange President/CEO Michael Huppe recently wrote on the issue.
Read more about how the MMA has changed the way musicians get paid in the year since it passed in Washington, D.C.
Read More: The Music Modernization Act, One Year Later