In the News
Posted on September 17, 2018
Tennessean: Sen. Alexander: Music Modernization Act is on the brink of passing Senate
By Nate Rau
September 17, 2018
Sen. Lamar Alexander believes the Music Modernization Act is on the brink of clearing the Senate and heading to President Donald Trump's desk to be signed into law.
The act would be the first major overhaul of the nation's music copyright laws in two decades. Its advocates say the legislation would improve paydays for songwriters by creating a new, more favorable standard for how digital royalty rates are set for services like Spotify and Apple Music.
The bill also creates a new licensing organization that would be in charge of identifying copyright holders and paying them the royalties they're due.
MMA could get 'hotlined'
The Music Modernization Act was set to enter the Senate's informal "hotline" process, which allows noncontroversial bills to pass with a simple voice vote, possibly as early as this week.
Representing a state with a heavy music industry presence, Alexander said the bill will be a boost for working songwriters at all levels of their careers.
“We are on the brink of the Senate passing the most significant legislation in a generation that will help make sure songwriters get paid for their work and even more important, get paid a fair market value,” Alexander said. “We have 74 cosponsors working carefully with all the voices we’ve heard who had concerns, because we want a result that lasts for a long time and has stability.
“It was a big help to have the National Association of Broadcasters issue their statement of support. Virtually everyone is on board, and now it’s a matter of finding time on the Senate floor to approve the bill, send it back to the House of Representatives and then back to the president.”
Alexander, R-Tennessee, said he hasn't spoken to President Donald Trump about the legislation, but added "I can't imagine the president not signing it with a lot of enthusiasm particularly given the broad base of support."
Wide support in the music industry
The legislation is backed by music publishers, songwriters, record labels, broader music industry groups like the Recording Academy, the streaming services, broadcasters and the performance rights organizations.
One outlying opponent has been SiriusXM, which may see its royalty rates increase as a result of the legislation. Alexander said he believes it is too late to make any changes to the bill.
The Music Modernization Act passed the House unanimously and cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee on a voice vote.
If there are no objections to "hotlining" the Music Modernization Act, it will be on a Senate floor calendar soon. Even if there is an objection, it wouldn't necessarily doom the bill, but could delay its passage by a few weeks
"There aren't many bills that end up with 74 sponsors in the United States Senate and that includes Republicans and Democrats from about as diverse a set of opinions we could come up with," Alexander said.
Because the version of the legislation passed by the House differs slightly from the one under consideration in the Senate, the House would have to vote again to reconcile the two versions. After that occurs, the bill would head to Trump to be signed into law.
What is the Music Modernization Act?
The Music Modernization Act creates a new music licensing organization, run by publishers and songwriters.
The licensing organization will be in charge of identifying a composition's copyright owners and paying them the royalties they are due.
The Music Modernization Act also creates a new standard for the rate-setting court to use to determine the fair royalty rate songwriters should be paid.
The bill, years in the making, has been touted by songwriters and publishers as a necessary step to improving the ease of licensing and the digital royalty rates they are paid.
Reach Nate Rau at 615-259-8094 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @tnnaterau.