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Home » Legislative Update » Creators Win Big as Music Modernization Act Is Signed Into Law

Creators Win Big as Music Modernization Act Is Signed Into Law


The AFM and all music creators marked a big win last month as President Trump signed the Orrin G. Hatch-Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act (MMA) into law after it was passed and reconciled by US House and Senate. As noted in the International Musician last month, the US Senate made amendments to and passed the MMA by voice vote under “unanimous consent.” On September 25, after Senate consideration, the bill was returned to the House of Representatives to resolve differences. The House agreed to the Senate Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute without objection. Most importantly, throughout the entire legislative process, out of 435 members of the House of Representatives and 100 members of the US Senate, not a single no vote was cast.

The bill was renamed the Orrin G. Hatch-Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act in honor of the US Senate and House of Representatives Judiciary Committee members who ushered the bill through Congress to completion under a procedural passage process known as “Suspension of the Rules,” with unanimous voice votes coming from both chambers. Hatch (R-UT) is himself a recognized composer. For House Judiciary Chair Goodlatte (R-VA) this was one of his final crowning copyright reform-legislative achievements prior to retirement from Congress and as chair.

music modernization act
Iconic gospel singer CeCe Winans celebrates at a gathering following the passage of the Music Modernization Act.

This success is a result of a three-year advocacy effort, drafting, lobbying, and shepherding the bill through the legislative process with the help of Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and other members of Congress; the MusicFIRST Coalition, which includes the AFM; major artists; and rank-and-file musicians. Together we convinced Congress that the music community could indeed surmount significant yet effective copyright-legislative reform plateaus by working together. As a result of this highly unusual legislative victory, the bill was signed into law by President Trump October 11, becoming Public Law No: 115-264. The AFM owes particular thanks to its IEB members: International Vice President and Local 99 (Portland, OR) President Bruce Fife, Local 257 (Nashville, TN) President Dave Pomeroy, and Local 802 (New York City) President Tino Gagliardi for their focused work on critical members of Congress and on the needs of AFM members.

The MMA contains three titles: “The Musical Works Modernization Act” establishes a new collective management organization (CMO) to manage streaming royalties for musical recordings. “The CLASSICS (Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, and Important Contributions to Society Protection and Access) Act” creates a performance right for pre-1972 artists whose music is performed on digital and satellite radio platforms. “The AMP (Allocation for Music Producers) Act” increases royalty payments to producers and sound recording engineers receiving direct payments from SoundExchange when recordings are used on satellite radio and online radio services. A congressional overview by Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA) indicates that the bill reforms music licensing in four areas:

1) Section 115 Reform ends the bulk Notice of Intention process.

2) The “Willing Buyer/Willing Seller Standard” under Section 115 now requires the court to consider free market conditions when determining rates.

3) The “Wheel Approach” allows ASCAP and BMI, along with music licensees, to go before any judge in the Southern District of New York on a rotating basis for purpose of rate setting disputes.

4) Section 114 (i) Repeal now allows PRO’s and songwriters the ability to present evidence about other facets of the music ecosystem to judges for their consideration, allowing songwriters to obtain fairer rates for the public performance of their musical works.

music modernization act
AFM Legislative-Political Director Alfonso Pollard (right) with singer songwriter and ASCAP Chair/ President Paul Williams of Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) at a victory party celebrating passage of the Music Modernization Act.

These major changes to music licensing and copyright law bring legislation in line with the way the modern music business operates.

A well-deserved October 10 victory celebration of this momentous Congressional win was attended by a broad range of advocates, partners, artists, and songwriters at the Winery in Washington, DC. The event was sponsored by the lobbying collective that included the AFM, SoundExchange, the Recording Association of America, the Recording Academy, A2IM, and 30 other music industry advocates.

For all artist creators, congratulations! The bill is now recognized as the “law of the land.”

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