Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)
Music Licensing Reform Gains Momentum: Is 2018 The Year Of Real Change?
"With the music industry united over reform, a recent congressional hearing on music legislation, and multiple bills now in the Senate, 2018 is looking like the year for real change for music creators." — Conversations In Advocacy #10
Simply put, there is more unity, urgency and progress right now than ever before for modernizing policy affecting music creators. A pair of critical music licensing reform bills that were recently introduced in the Senate, the Music Modernization Act and CLASSICS Act, and a historic House Judiciary Committee hearing in the near rearview have created a momentum toward a fair system for music creators that may finally come together and add up to more than the sum of their parts in 2018.
The Music Modernization Act will go a long way to address antiquated laws affecting songwriters. Similarly, the CLASSICS Act will address recordings created pre-1972, clarifying their federal copyright protection. Both bills have been introduced by members of the Senate Judiciary committee and are the same legislation as their House companions.
Just last month, "Music Policy Issues: A Perspective From Those Who Make It," a House Judiciary Committee hearing held in New York City in coordination with the 60th GRAMMY Awards, convened a diverse panel of music industry professionals to testify on behalf of various roles in the creative process, providing the committee first-hand accounts of how outdated policy impacts their livelihood.
But the bigger shift these incremental steps signal is that the Senate Judiciary Committee is taking up comprehensive music licensing reform, the much-needed reform both chambers are working together to enact. Frequently in Washington, complex policy issues can suffer long delays and often result in failure due to the different approaches taken by the Senate and the House. Fortunately, that’s not the case for music reform.
Music brings people together, and the same may be true on Capitol Hill this year, as these parallel efforts could culminate in real change. The harmony between House and Senate on the subject of music will hopefully grease the wheels for a comprehensive "unity" package of legislation that would truly move the needle. This package would include the aforementioned MMA and CLASSICS Act as well as the Allocations for Music Producer (AMP) Act and a fair rate standard for all digital radio services, with the goal being to pass this suite of bills by end of the calendar year.
Should this dream so many creators and lawmakers alike have worked so hard to realize come to fruition, 2018 would no doubt go down in history as a year of seismic change.
"Conversations in Advocacy" is your weekend digital tip sheet on music advocacy and the policies that affect music makers and their craft. New installments post every Friday.