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Music Modernization Act In Action: Funding Deal Reached As Copyright Office Begins Outreach
Last year's landmark music legislation, the Music Modernization Act (MMA) is gradually making a bigger and bigger impact on the creator community. Case in point: Spotify, Apple and other services represented by the Digital Licensee Coordinator (DLC) have agreed to a $62 million budget for the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) to manage the new blanket mechanical license and handle royalty collection and distribution for songwriters, producers and other creators as established by the MMA.
"Today’s agreement between the MLC and the DLC represents a landmark achievement for every facet of the music industry," MLC board chairman Alisa Coleman and DLC board chair James Duffett-Smith said in a joint statement announcing the agreement. "As a result of this accord, the central feature of the Music Modernization Act will be able to commence operations with the resources necessary to help ensure its success."
The budget agreement is a continuation of the collaborative spirit of the MMA, and a promising point of progress for both parties toward setting up an effective MLC, which must be up and running by Jan. 1, 2021, according to the legislation.
Reaching this budget agreement was a feat especially hard won, as many industry stakeholders have weighed in on how the MLC should operate , including the Recording Academy, who filed comments to the Copyright Office earlier this month in its Notice of Inquiry. The comments were informed by MMA implementation and focused on the MLC’s operations and database.
Starting at the front end of the process, the comments read, "Data provided for the database must be authoritative, reliable, and accurate… The musical works database should be as accessible and easy to use," going on to advise, "the Copyright Office should encourage the adoption of in-studio data collection, recognizing that the studio is early in the data chain and the optimal opportunity to secure the most accurate data."
This concept of capturing and documenting accurate data from the point of creation can make all the difference in getting the proper people paid for their work on the backend. And its not just about songwriters, later in the filing, the Academy proposed helpful criteria to better ensure the MLC database accurately works for all music makers—including producers—urging the Copyright Office to, "Clarify that a producer is someone who was part of the creative process that created a sound recording," when distributing and implementing its new regulations.
The November filing continues the Recording Academy’s efforts to ensure that the MLC and the new database work as the MMA intended. In comments earlier this year on the designation of the MLC, the Academy noted::
"The MLC submission embodies a thoughtful, meticulous, and comprehensive approach," the comments read. "It demonstrates the administrative and technological capabilities necessary to perform the required functions of the Collective. The Academy has confidence in the MLC’s ability to create and operate the Collective in accordance with the statute."
— GRAMMY Advocacy (@GRAMMYAdvocacy) July 8, 2019
The Academy will continue to play a critical role in the discussion around best practices for the MLC next month as part of the Copyright Office’s Unclaimed Royalties Study Symposium. The Academy’s Senior Director of Advocacy & Public Policy, Todd Dupler, will participate in the Dec. 6 symposium set to be held at the Library of Congress. The symposium will cover the MLC’s many responsibilities, including the collection and distribution of royalties associated with uses by digital service provide. For more information on the symposium, which is open to the public, visit the event's website.
With a budget agreement in place, the MLC takes a big leap toward building a better, fairer system for compensating the makers of the music we love. It also adds to the growing list of ways the MMA is benefiting creators, which shows that advocacy works, and every voice matters.