Alexander: The Music Modernization Act Will Help Thousands of Tennessee Songwriters Be Paid Fair Value for Their Songs

Posted on January 24, 2018

1-24-2018 Floor Speech.png

*Click here to watch the senator’s full remarks.*

WASHINGTON, January 24, 2018 – United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today spoke on the Senate floor about the Music Modernization Act, legislation he is cosponsoring today – along with a bipartisan group of eight senators – that will help thousands of Tennessee songwriters be paid fair value for their songs.

“Songwriters are the lifeblood of Music City, thousands of them work as waiters, bus drivers or teachers as they build their songwriting career. Their paychecks ought to be based on the fair market value of their songs – so that when they write a hit heard around the world, they can see it in their billfolds,” Alexander said. “The arrival of the Internet has transformed the music industry, but it has also meant many songwriters aren’t paid royalties when their songs are played online. This is the first problem. The second problem is that when songwriters are paid, they aren’t paid a fair market value for their songs. Our legislation – the Music Modernization Act – addresses both of these problems.”

Alexander continued: “The Music Modernization Act is bipartisan legislation that represents the first major consensus legislation that has the support of songwriters, music publishers, digital music companies and record labels. More importantly, this legislation will have a real impact on the thousands of songwriters in Tennessee in three ways: First, the legislation creates a simple licensing system for digital music services to reflect a changing music industry. Second, the legislation will make it easier for songwriters to be paid when their music is played or someone buys a song they wrote. And third, the legislation will allow a songwriter to be paid the fair market value for their work.”

Alexander concluded: “Songwriters, music publishers, and digital music companies have reached a consensus, now it is up to Congress to provide a solution. This is why I am working in a bipartisan way to pass the Music Modernization Act this year and help give Tennessee – and our nation’s – songwriters the fair pay they have earned.”

Alexander’s full prepared remarks are available here.

More information on the Music Modernization Act

  • Adopts a simple licensing system for digital music services making it easier for companies to obtain a license to play a song and reducing the likelihood of litigation. 
  • Ensures songwriters will be paid the fair market value for their songs by:

o   Directing the Copyright Royalty Board to set compensation according to the fair market value when songs are played online or sold, such as through music downloads, replacing the current below-market standard.

o   Removing a provision of law that narrows the scope of evidence the federal rate court may examine when asked to set songwriter compensation for when their song is played, such as in a restaurant or at a concert.