In the middle of what I think is a lot of hot air about Spotify becoming a threat to record companies–almost always a story promoted either by stock analysts who don’t know a trap case from a coke spoon or by overpaid Spotify executives–comes a very interesting story. According to Digital Music News, Led Zeppelin may be about to launch its own streaming service.
Editor Charlie sez: The current version of the Music Modernization Act can be found here. Don’t ask–there’s some parliamentary reason why it’s now got a different bill number (HR 1551) and has a weird title (“To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to modify the credit for production from advanced nuclear power facilities”).
Disregard the nuke references, this is the “engrossed amendment” of the MMA.
Music Creators North America, Inc. (MCNA), a music creator alliance representing a US, Canadian and global coalition of over half a million songwriters and composers from around the world through its affiliates in the International Council for Music Creators (CIAM), applauded the passage today of the Music Modernization Act (MMA) by the US Senate. The Act, if signed into law by the President once a unified version is agreed upon by both houses of the US Congress, will reform and streamline the music licensing process and force digital music distributors to take greater responsibility in ensuring the equitable, proper, and timely payment of royalties to music creators for distribution of their works in the US.
According to the member organizations of MCNA, the benefits of the MMA strongly outweighed its shortcomings, and its passage is a welcome step forward. The Act, however, will require constant vigilance by the music creator community to ensure that all of the intended benefits to composers and songwriters are realized. This includes encouragement of music creators to claim the royalties owed to them, careful monitoring of distributions of so-called “unmatched” royalties, and especially close scrutiny of actions undertaken by the music licensing collective established under the legislation and controlled by a board of directors that has only a minority of music creator members. The members of MCNA have pledged their full energies in support of these and other efforts to safeguard songwriter and composer rights, including keeping a close watch on the process in which the US House of Representatives and Senate versions of the bill are reconciled.
WASHINGTON, DC – September 18, 2018 – The SoundExchange family of music creators today applauded the long-awaited passage of the comprehensive Music Modernization Act by the U.S. Senate. SoundExchange issued the following statement from President and CEO Michael Huppe:
“The future of the music industry got brighter today. Creators of music moved one step closer to getting paid more fairly. And industry forces that fought to maintain an unfair and harmful status quo were rebuffed. Now, SoundExchange’s 170,000-member community has just one word for the House of Representatives: Encore.”
“The Music Modernization Act proves what can happen when constructive industry leaders work together towards a greater good. The SoundExchange community joined a historic coalition of artists, labels, songwriters, music publishers, streaming services, performance rights organizations, producers, engineers and unions. The outcome of this collaboration is a law that sets a new framework to guide the future of the music industry. There are still issues regarding creator fairness that we need to address, but today we celebrate a new era of cooperation and progress across the industry.”
SoundExchange will monitor the progress of the Music Modernization Act. Follow updates on our Twitter handle @SoundExchange.
The Content Creators Coalition (c3) and MusicAnswers released the following statement reacting to the Senate passing the Music Modernization Act:
“The Content Creators Coalition (c3) and MusicAnswers applaud the Senate passage and expected prompt House passage of the Music Modernization Act. The bill is a great step forward towards a fairer music ecosystem that works better for music creators, services, and fans.
“Our organizations have been pleased to join in the efforts of the music creator community in support of this bill.
“We also are gratified that our two organizations, in collaboration and independent of other groups, were able to make meaningful contributions to the final legislation, including comprehensive and publicly available audits of the MMA’s new Mechanical Licensing Collective and ensuring that the Collective uses best practices to find the owners of unclaimed royalties. We appreciate the receptivity of key legislators and their staffs to these fundamental notions of transparency and accountability.
“Going forward, we pledge to work with other committed music creator organizations to ensure that songwriters and composers receive the royalties their work has generated and to see that, despite the lack of equal representation for songwriters on the board of the Collective, unclaimed royalties are distributed to the songwriters who earned them. We thank our many thousands of members and signatories for their support of our efforts as we continue to fight for the rights of music creators.”
The Content Creators Coalition (c3) is an artist-run non-profit advocacy group representing creators in the digital landscape. C3’s work is significant to anyone who creates and makes a living from their creations. c3’s objectives are two-fold: First, economic justice for musicians and music creators in the digital domain. Second, ensuring that the current and future generations of creators retain the rights needed to create and benefit from the use of their work and efforts. C3 has grown into a national organization based on representation, advocacy, and mobilization for sustainable careers in the digital age.
MusicAnswers unites songwriters, composers, performers, and producers in a grassroots campaign to inform, organize, and protect the music community about our rights and revenue streams. It is grounded in the firm belief that, regardless of our roles in creating music, our common interests are far greater than those that divide us. Since its launch in January 2016, nearly 3500 music creators and professionals have signed the MusicAnswers Declaration of Principles, which is posted at musicanswers.org.
by Michael Huppe, President and CEO, SoundExchange
The Music Modernization Act (MMA) now has the support of 76 Senators. As it nears the finish line, SiriusXM is going door-to-door in the Senate in a last-ditch effort to block the MMA, a bill backed by an historic coalition of thousands of music creators, songwriters, producers, labels, publishers and digital music services—all of whom have been working for years to get Congress to reform music licensing laws.
For longtime advocates, it will come as no surprise that SiriusXM is trying to scuttle the MMA at the last minute. This is, after all, precisely what they did 20+ years ago when Congress first enacted legislation giving performers the right to be compensated when digital services use their music. Back then, Sirius stepped in during the final throes of the legislative process to argue that having to pay for music—their primary product—could “disrupt” their nascent business plans. They argued for a special royalty rate–one that effectively forced artists to subsidize their business and gave them a competitive advantage against other companies. That special treatment has gone on for over two decades ago now. We don’t think such a sweetheart deal was justified back then; but it’s indefensible now.
Once separate companies, SiriusXM is now the sole satellite radio company in the U.S. It generates revenue well over $5 billion annually, the huge majority of which comes from its more than 32 million subscribers. To put that into context, U.S. wholesale revenue for the entire record industry was $5.9 billion in 2017. Yes, a single company, SiriusXM, makes nearly as much from subscribers in the United States as all record labels and artists combined make from all sources.
Make no mistake about it: SiriusXM would not have a business without recorded music. And yet, SiriusXM has profited for decades by getting music at a special market distorting rate set under a different standard than all its thousands of internet radio competitors. Specifically, the rates set for internet radio are established under a “willing-buyer/willing seller” standard – another way of saying artists and labels are supposed to be paid a fair market rate for their recordings. When setting satellite radio rates, by contrast, the government can – and has – set rates lower than fair market value based on four amorphous policy factors. The impact is not academic: the lower rate standard has cost creators billions of dollars over the last 20 years.
Multi-billion dollar companies should not be subsidized by musicians – and all competing streaming platforms should play by the same rules.
Seems obvious right? It is, and that’s one of the reasons the Music Modernization Act passed the House of Representatives unanimously (as in 415-0; think on that for minute) and is on the verge of passage in the Senate.
The music community is united around the MMA because it ensures fair treatment for music creators and a level playing field for digital radio services. It is a win-win, and the compromises SiriusXM has proposed are inconsistent with the principles upon which the bill is centered. We look forward to the Senate moving this bill — and with it all of music — forward.
September 17, 2018
Dear Senator Wyden,
Being a musician isn’t easy. We spend months on tour, play late night shows, and spend hours, even days, on end in the recording studio. We sacrifice time with our families and money that could be made in more lucrative, stable jobs. While certainly not an easy decision, we make these sacrifices freely, because this is what we love to do. We don’t ask for special treatment or undue assistance.
All we ask is that you have our back.
The CLASSICS Act, incorporated in the Music Modernization Act, gives elderly artists what they deserve – what they’ve earned. It’s an injustice that just because someone’s career began before 1972, they don’t earn money the same way that other artists do.
Aging artists who recorded music prior to the 1972 cutoff are suffering. They’ve worked decades, making the sacrifices that we all do, only to be robbed when it harms them the most. They’re not asking for a handout, just for the income they’ve earned.
The CLASSICS Act fixes this, eliminating the arbitrary 1972 cutoff. Not only does it make things fairer, it will help older artists in retirement who are struggling without regular income. Millions of seniors in the US live in poverty – we should be working to cut that number, not exacerbating the crisis.
The overall Music Modernization Act would benefit music creators of all ages across the country and provide certainty to digital services. That’s why an unprecedented coalition of songwriters and publishers, record labels and performers, and digital services has joined together to support the bill.
Oregon is home to thousands of musicians of all ages who are counting on you. Support us by supporting the CLASSICS Act as part of the Music Modernization Act.
Amber Sweeney | Bruce Fife | Carrie Brownstein | Corin Tucker
Janet Weiss | Kathy Foster | k.d. lang | Laura Veirs
Maggie Vail | Neko Case | Peter Buck | Scott McCaughey
Sam Coomes | Scott Magee | Ural Thomas | Westin Glass