Photo: Courtesy of the White House
Music Modernization Act Signed Into Law By President Trump
"We're finally getting it done" — Conversations In Advocacy #39
On Oct. 11 at the White House, President Trump signed the Orrin G. Hatch-Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act (MMA) into law. The historic signing ceremony was attended by musicians Jeff Baxter, Kid Rock, Mike Love, MercyMe, Sam Moore, Craig Morgan, John Rich, members of Congress including Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Darrell Issa (R-Ca.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and our own Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow. President Trump gave special thanks to Portnow and concluded, "We're finally getting it done!"
"With the president's signature today, the Music Modernization Act is officially the law of the land," said Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow. "As we celebrate the harmony and unity that got us here, we applaud the efforts of the thousands of performers, songwriters, and studio professionals who rallied for historic change to ensure all music creators are compensated fairly when their work is used by digital and satellite music services. We thank the members of Congress who championed this issue throughout the past several years to bring music law into the 21st century."
After years of effort leading up to this major reform of copyright law for the digital age, celebrating the occasion includes looking back while looking ahead — gratitude for unprecedented unity by industry stakeholders, deep satisfaction that a unanimous Congress worked together in a bipartisan manner to craft the law, and excitement looking ahead to marketplace incentives that will soon be put in place, making life more fair for those who rely on music for their livelihoods.
The stage was set for this turning point once the House of Representatives — having passed their version of the MMA previously — voted unanimously for final passage of the Senate's legislation, which absorbed solutions from the House bill during the Senate's drafting of their own version. To celebrate the occasion, the Recording Academy Membership's 12 Chapters across America raised their glasses in unison last week in a #ToastToMusic.
In three major "titles," the MMA has benefits for everyone. The first title includes the "willing buyer/willing seller" rate-setting standard, helping both artists and songwriters, governing determinations for online royalties made by the Copyright Royalty Board. This also means songwriter organizations such as ASCAP and BMI will be in an improved negotiating position to secure rates that are fair in the future. Songwriters will also benefit from the mechanical licensing collection entity created by the MMA, which plans to leverage modern digital tech to administer digital rights with unprecedented transparency.
The second title closes the pre-1972 loophole that excluded legacy performers of iconic American recordings from compensation for online streams. Artists benefit from its solutions which were previously introduced by the CLASSICS Act.
The third title welcomes producers and engineers into the language of copyright law for the very first time, reflecting in statute the critical contributions these studio professionals continue to make every day. This overdue recognition was first introduced in the AMP Act.
Even internet associations and digital activists have found reasons to celebrate the balanced copyright reform package embodied in the MMA, for example its clearing the way for historic Orphan Works to reach the public in unfortunate cases where creators cannot be identified. Also, the MMA's new platform for music business will end long-standing conflicts that led to lawsuits, eating up years in the courts and costing millions of dollars to litigate.
For all music fans, including the creators in our membership, access to modernized, transparent data will change the way we all learn what's out there for us to listen to, as well as what others are listening to. Thanks to the copyright reform work of industry professionals, lawmakers and outspoken advocates for music from every background, all of us can look forward to new tools and innovations given a firm basis in data.
Looking ahead, Recording Academy Advocacy work on behalf of music's many creatives and professionals will continue, year round, building on this new platform of modernized copyright to lobby for additional improvements not included in the MMA omnibus. Our District Advocate day with its focus on local action will be here soon, on Oct. 24. Thousands of our members participate in "the nation's largest grassroots advocacy movement for music." The pride and gratitude inspired by today's turning point will no doubt still feel fresh.