[Rob Levine puts his finger on the central objection that most songwriters have about the Music Modernization Act–the lack of incentives to stop paying the current hit songwriters with other people’s money on black box distributions. Every songwriter knows that what a wise man one said–they may be riding high in April, but they could get shot down in May. With very few exceptions that black box will eventually be their money.]
The focus should be on getting as much unclaimed royalties as possible to the publishers and songwriters who actually earned it.
The part of the Music Modernization Act that reconfigures the way mechanical royalties are collected and distributed in the online world has something for everyone in the publishing business. Streaming services that comply with the new law can no longer be sued for statutory damages for copyright infringement. Music publishers gain more control over how mechanical royalties are paid. Most publishers and songwriters should make more money. So it seems almost churlish to point out that the only issue that involves mechanical royalties that the bill won’t necessarily fix is how hard it is for streaming services to match recordings with compositions in order to accurately pay publishers — which is what created the push to pass it in the first place.
The bill does create a mechanism to improve that situation, and a relatively simple fix to the law would make sure it did. Congress should make this fix and then pass the bill, since it will stabilize the music streaming business and update the way publishers are paid in the online world.