@ArtistRightsNow @MusicAnswersNow: Musicians And Songwriters Celebrate Senate Passage Of The Music Modernization Act


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.”

About c3:

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.

About MusicAnswers:

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


@ArtistRightsNow/Content Creators Coalition Open Letter to Senator @RonWyden on Passing the CLASSICS Act

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

Content Creators Coalition & MusicAnswers Applaud the Revision and Passage of the Music Modernization Act by the Senate Judiciary Committee


[Washington, D.C.] – The Content Creators Coalition and MusicAnswers released today the following statement on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s vote in support of the Music Modernization Act.

C3 and MusicAnswers applaud the Senate Judiciary Committee’s vote to advance the Music Modernization Act, while incorporating key changes we had urged to make the legislation stronger, more transparent, and more equitable.

The MMA will strengthen the music ecosystem and all its participants, including songwriters, publishers, performing rights organizations, artists, record companies, music services and fans. It ensures digital music services will pay fair royalties for every song they stream, establish a better standard for determining royalty rates, and eliminate some out-of-date provisions of the PRO consent decrees. In return, digital music services get certainty, legal protection, and new streamlined tools to bring more music to more people at lower cost.

It’s a reasonable bargain, and, therefore, we have consistently and publicly supported the basic construct of the legislation.

We are especially grateful that the Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), was willing to engage with our organizations on ways to improve the bill and include in the Managers Amendment approved today key protections for creators and the public.

As a result, the MMA now provides greater transparency, including rigorous audits to make sure that royalties are flowing to the correct parties, a commitment to educating all music creators about their rights and the royalties due them collected under the new Music Licensing Collective (MLC), a requirement to study and follow best practices in order to find the proper owners of unclaimed royalties, and increased clarity regarding who owns the data generated by the new system.

While we support the legislation and are proud of the changes we have achieved as artist and songwriter advocates, we continue to have concerns about three key issues: whether the entity that is designated as the MLC is being foreordained by the bill and precludes competition with the MLC; the composition of the Board of Directors of the MLC, which is unduly tilted towards major publishers; and the methods used to distribute royalties from works where even using best practices the authors could not be identified.  We urge the full Senate and the House to consider further improvements to those flawed provisions and we call on the Copyright Office to ensure in implementation of the final legislation that no stakeholder group can dominate the MLC and that all royalties are distributed in a fair and equitable and non-self-interested manner.

The process leading to this moment has been strong in many ways. But it has also included its fair share of divide-and-conquer tactics and efforts by powerful incumbent forces to crowd out grassroots organizations like ours and to divide the music community within itself.  We believe that we are strongest when we respect and support each other – a lesson too many in our business still have yet to learn.

We are deeply appreciative of the partnership c3 and MusicAnswers have forged. Together, we represent thousands of writers, producers, performers, and music business professionals, and over the past few weeks we have worked steadfastly to pursue improvements in the MMA. We look forward to future collaboration and welcome the involvement of other collaborative groups and individuals.

@artistrightsnow: Content Creators Coalition Calls Out Flaws and Improvements for Music Modernization Act


Content Creators Coalition Highlights Ways To Improve The Music Modernization Act In Letter To Legislation Sponsors

Washington, D.C. – The Content Creators Coalition (c3) today sent the following letter to Representatives Doug Collins and Hakeem Jefferies highlighting three ways to improve the Music Modernization Act, ensuring the legislation best achieves the goal of fair treatment of independent songwriters. Additionally, the letter reiterates the performer and songwriter-run group’s support for the legislation and thanking the sponsors for their leadership in fighting for songwriters and musicians.  Attached is a PDF version of the letter.

March 14, 2018

The Honorable Doug Collins, Vice Chair
Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet
House Committee on the Judiciary
1504 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Hakeem Jeffries
1607 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representatives Collins and Jeffries:

The Content Creators Coalition advocates for all music creators including songwriters.  Along with other organizations spanning the music industry, we have endorsed the Music Modernization Act as part of a package of important reforms that will better the lives of people who make music for a living and strengthen the music economy overall.  Thank you for your sponsorship of this vital legislation and your long-standing commitment to fair pay for songwriters and all music creators.

We recognize that the Music Modernization Act (“MMA”) is at an early stage in the legislative process – the current version is the introduced draft.  Through its combination with other measures, such as the CLASSICS Act, and further Congressional process, including Committee markup, it should continue to be strengthened and improved.

To that end, we have closely followed the ongoing discussion around the introduced bill, including concerns raised by Grammy-winning composer and bandleader Maria Schneider. Many, including the National Music Publishers Association, have previously recognized the importance of her input on these issues and we too value her perspective.

We believe these concerns go to the heart of what prompted you to introduce the original Songwriters Equity Act and now the MMA.  As Congressman Collins eloquently stated, the purpose of reforming outdated laws governing songwriter royalties is “[t]o incentivize (songwriters), give them the encouragement and the strength to get the songs in their spirit out to the world and to give a better future for songwriters in the music business.”  Indeed, he continued, “[i]t’s the saddest thing for people not to feel they have a chance to share the song in their heart and bring it out to the world.  We need to help them get it out.” This is critical, as Congressman Jeffries explained, to “nearly 80,000 songwriters, composers and publishers (in New York) who deserve to make a good living.”

We are grateful that you were moved by the need to build a better future for up and coming songwriters and every working artist struggling to make a sustainable career.  That is what motivates us too and what lies behind the changes many are calling for – to strengthen the introduced draft of the MMA.

We are most focused on three core concerns about the fairness and transparency of the new structures and processes the bill puts in place: equal representation for music creators on the board, fair distribution of unclaimed royalties, and accountability and transparency for the new entities the bill creates.

The composition of the new licensing collective’s management board is the key issue.  In the past, when Congress has modernized the law in this area, it has always insisted on equality between individual creators such as songwriters, vocalists, and musicians and the larger creative organizations such as publishers and record companies.  Here, for the new system to work, it must remain faithful to that tradition and include equal board representation.

The bill’s impossibly complex and costly audit provisions fall short by failing to give individual creators meaningful and streamlined/affordable audit options and tools.  And the unclaimed royalties process has built in conflicts of interest that will disincentivize finding royalty claimants and thereby steer money away from new and niche artists, a completely backwards approach that will only exacerbate the challenges facing the industry in sustaining its diversity, creativity, and breadth.

Those who would benefit from the bill’s current structure respond to these concerns by arguing basically that this is the way mechanical royalties have been handled in the past or in other countries and that any proposed changes are politically impossible and would endanger the passage of the bill.

These responses ring hollow.  Simply because something has been done in the past does not mean that’s the only way it can be.  The entire digital streaming business built atop revolutionary legislation such as the Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act of 1995 is a testament to that fact.  As would be the changes already contemplated by this bill, which would create two brand new entities and reshape the system for distributing mechanical royalties.  There is simply no reason that Congress cannot further refine these new proposed mechanisms and make sure they are appropriately transparent, effective, and fair.

The further claim that any changes would jeopardize the bill’s passage is especially odd and circular.  There is no known opposition to most of these changes except for the NMPA which benefits uniquely from the introduced version of the bill.  Surely NMPA wants to continue forward on a consensus path and would not be so shortsighted as to throw away these groundbreaking reforms and major new benefits such as market value mechanical royalties and major changes to the CRB and Rate Court processes simply because it cannot have 100% of what it wants on these process/fairness questions.

c3 has been proud to work tirelessly on music licensing reform for years and specifically towards passage of these important measures, starting with our participation in the earliest hearings convened on these issues by Chairman Bob Goodlatte, carrying through with extensive member meetings and an unprecedented grassroots mobilization this year.

We strongly support your efforts and want these bills to pass.  But we also urge that that the process includes full and open-minded consideration to constructive and thoughtful suggestions to improve the legislation, so it better accomplishes what you have set out to do.

Given your historic commitment to fairness for all music creators, we are confident you will do no less.


Content Creators Coalition Executive Board

Melvin Gibbs, President
John McCrea, Vice President
Tommy Manzi, Treasurer
Rosanne Cash, Vice President At Large
Tift Merritt, Vice President At Large
Matthew Montfort, Vice President At Large



cc: The Honorable Bob Goodlatte, Chair, House Judiciary Committee

The Honorable Jerry Nadler, Ranking Member, House Judiciary Committee


T-Bone Burnett’s Comments on Reform of the DMCA Safe Harbor

The U.S. Copyright Office has invited the public to comment on potential reforms of the DMCA “safe harbors” and the incomparable T-Bone Burnett delivered this video version of his insightful comments on DMCA abuse. (See also Billboard article on T-Bone’s comment and my 2006 post on MTP, The DMCA is Not An Alibi.) It is important […]

via T-Bone Burnett’s Comments on Reform of the DMCA Safe Harbor — MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY