Music Modernization Act reaches the U.S. Senate

After a successful and speedy road through the House of Representatives, the Music Modernization Act has been introduced in the Senate. The legislation would create some sweeping changes to mechanical royalties, and it has received strong backing from both parties on the Hill. The music industry has also been close to unanimous in its support, with labels, artists, and digital platforms all voicing interest in getting the Act passed.

“Today’s introduction is an important step toward enacting historic reform for our badly outdated music laws,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) in a statement. “For far too long, our old-fashioned, disorganized way of collecting and distributing music royalties has resulted in songwriters and other content creators being paid far too little for their work. It’s also exposed digital music companies to significant liability and created overall uncertainty in the music marketplace.”

The Music Modernization Act has several components, each pulled from different proposed bills that have been combined into a single measure. Here are the major elements:

  • Creating a blanket mechanical license for songwriters
  • Launching a single entity for administering mechanical royalties from digital services
  • Directly paying producers and studio engineers through the SoundExchange royalty system covering performers and labels
  • Creating federal protection for music produced before 1972 (the year nation-wide copyright law took effect)

“Though the way we listen to music may change over time, the lasting mark music creators from all generations leave with us does not,” added Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). “This broadly bipartisan package ensures that all music creators have the access to the royalties they’ve earned and that music lovers can better access these works of art. I’m grateful for the hard work of my colleagues and stakeholders to advance this much-needed reform package.”

Anna Washenko

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