Senators Announce Overwhelming Support for Legislation to Ensure Songwriters are Paid Fair Value for Their Song

Posted on January 29, 2018

WASHINGTON, January 29—A bipartisan group of nine senators today announced the overwhelming support from music creators, publishers, digital music companies, and tech companies for legislation they introduced last week, the Music Modernization Act, to modernize outdated music licensing laws and ensure songwriters are paid fair value for their songs.

American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers: “The Music Modernization Act addresses some of the most critical issues facing America’s songwriters today, including rate court reforms and changes to the outdated music licensing system that better reflect the evolution of how people listen to music. While there is more work to be done to ensure that songwriters earn fair compensation, this legislation, like the similar bill recently introduced in the House, represents important progress in an ongoing effort on industry-wide reforms that protect the rights of music creators. We thank Senators Hatch, Whitehouse, Alexander, Durbin, Corker, Coons, Isakson and Jones for their support and we urge all parties to seize the momentum to pass these bills without delay.”

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Nashville Songwriters Association International: “Songwriters will finally get a market-based mechanical rate standard, which should result in more equitable royalties from interactive streaming companies. Until now, we have been tied to outdated rate standards Congress first adopted for player piano rolls back in 1909. In addition, American songwriters will, for the first time, by law, receive at least half of all unclaimed digital mechanical royalties. I want to extend my deepest thanks to all of our introducing Senate sponsors. The Music Modernization Act represents the most significant copyright reform in a generation.”

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Digital Media Association: “DiMA thanks the Senators for their hard work and willingness to join together in a bipartisan fashion to reform an outdated and inefficient music licensing system that serves neither fans of music nor creators.”

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National Music Publishers Association: “The MMA will dramatically improve the lives of songwriters. We are grateful to Senators Hatch and Alexander for their leadership on behalf of music creators. It is time for songwriters to get the rates they deserve, and the MMA is their best hope for fairness in the digital age.”

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Broadcast Music Inc.: “The Music Modernization Act is an important step forward in protecting the rights of the American songwriter, and we thank Senators Hatch, Alexander, Whitehouse, Corker, Durbin, Coons, Isakson, Jones, and Harris for their support of this important legislation. While we believe there is still more to do to protect the value of the performance right, we are encouraged by the inclusion of two important provisions that go a long way towards ensuring that songwriters and composers receive fair compensation for their creative work; the wheel assignment for rate court judges and the repeal of 114 (i) application to digital services. While we know this bill is not yet final, it represents an unprecedented cross-industry effort to introduce comprehensive music reform, and we look forward to working with all of the interested parties to further support this much needed legislation.”

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Songwriters of North America: Songwriters of North America (SONA) is thrilled that the Senate is introducing the Music Modernization Act, which significantly moves the ball forward on legislative reform for songwriters. For too long, songwriters have been severely handicapped in the marketplace, with absurdly low payments for the use of our songs or no payments at all.  The Music Modernization Act will help rectify this going forward.  SONA is very thankful to Senator Hatch, Senator Alexander, and the other co-sponsors of this legislation.”

Spotify: "Spotify appreciates the large bipartisan effort in the U.S. Senate to fix the broken, outdated licensing system that does not serve the needs of music creators or digital music services. The Music Modernization Act increases the transparency and efficiency of licensing music, leading to faster and more accurate royalty payments to songwriters and more music available to consumers.”

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Pandora: “Pandora welcomes the introduction of the Music Modernization Act in the Senate today. This legislation will foster innovation and growth across the music industry ecosystem, benefiting music makers, songwriters, and fans alike.”

Internet Association: “Internet Association commends you for the introduction of the Music Modernization Act (H.R. 4706, S. 2334). Key reforms to Section 115 of the Copyright Act will create a new, more efficient system of licensing musical compositions, benefiting creators and innovators alike. The more than 40 members of Internet Association include the most innovative and forward-thinking companies in the world, including many internet platforms and services that depend on clear, reliable rules for licensing  music. Such rules enable innovation and economic success.”

Internet Association represents more than 40 member companies including: Airbnb, Amazon, Coinbase, DoorDash, Dropbox, Ebay, Etsy, Eventbrite, Expedia, Facebook, Google, Groupon, Handy, HomeAway, IAC, Intuit, LinkedIn, Lyft, Match Group, Microsoft, Netflix, Pandora, PayPal, Pinterest, Quicken Loans, Rackspace, Reddit, Salesforce, Snap Inc., Spotify, SurveyMonkey, Thumbtack, TransferWise, TripAdvisor, Turo, Twitter, Uber, Upwork, Yelp, Zenefits, and Zillow Group.

The Music Modernization Act—introduced last week by U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), and Kamala Harris (D-CA)—would set up a new simplified licensing entity to make it easier for digital music companies to obtain a license and play songs. The entity will also ensure songwriters are paid the royalties they are owed. The bill would also change the law to help songwriters be paid a fair market value for their songs.

The senators said the internet has transformed the music industry, and the Music Modernization Act updates outdated music licensing laws to make it easier for songwriters to be paid when their music is played online by a digital steaming service, or purchased online. According to Standard and Poor’s, there were 86 million paying subscribers to digital streaming services, who streamed music 252 billion times in 2016. Revenues generated from online music generated half the music industry’s revenues in 2016. As digital music streaming increases, the number of individual song downloads fell 24 percent between 2015 and 2016 and compact disc sales fell below 100 million units sold – which means less royalties paid to songwriters.