Music Modernization Act Heads to Trump for Approval

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President Donald Trump

The legislation forged by compromises throughout the music industry creates a blanket mechanical license and a collective to administer it.

The Music Modernization Act (MMA) is not the law of the land yet, but it's pretty damn close, as the House of Representatives on Tuesday unanimously approved passage of the U.S. Senate’s version of the bill, which had itself been approved by that chamber last week. Now, the MMA is off to the White House, where it will await the signature of President Donald Trump before becoming the law of the land.

The legislation forged by compromises throughout the music industry creates a blanket mechanical license and a collective to administer it, while changing some of the considerations used in setting music publishing rates. It also compels digital and satellite radio to pay a royalty on pre-1972 master recordings to labels and artists, and it codifies the procedure by which SoundExchange can pay producers and engineers royalties for the records it works on.

The RIAA, which along with the major labels made the last compromise needed to get SiriusXM on board and to get the legislation over the hump in the Senate, issued a statement praising the congressmen who sponsored and worked on getting the legislation through the House, while throwing a nod in the direction of Flo & Eddie, who were the face of the class-action lawsuits that brought the pre-1972 issue to the mainstream.

“With this final House vote, another chapter in the journey of this critical legislation comes to a close,” RIAA president Mitch Glazier, one of the main movers behind the legislation, said in a statement. “As the Music Modernization Act goes to the President’s desk for signature, we have many Members to thank for their work to make this final House vote possible to improve the lives of countless artists, songwriters and producers. On behalf of a grateful music community, we extend our appreciation to Chairman Bob Goodlatte, Ranking Member Jerry Nadler and Representatives Doug Collins, Darrell Issa, Marsha Blackburn, Joe Crowley, Ted Deutch, Hakeem Jeffries and Tom Rooney for their leadership and commitment to getting this bill across the finish line. As the Turtles would say, we’re grateful Congress is ‘so happy together.’”

In between the compromises, however, there was also aggressive infighting between some industry players, which National Music Publishers’ Assn. president and CEO David Israelite, another key mover in shaping the legislation, acknowledged in a statement. “This was not an easy process, but it has galvanized the entire industry behind the songwriters, artists, producers and composers whose voices carried this bill across this threshold,” he said. “Music is at the core of our country and it’s edifying to see Congress work together to ensure those who make it can make a living in the digital age.”

Added Israelite, “After many months moving through Congress, we are thrilled to see the Music Modernization Act officially passed. Now, only days stand between tonight’s House vote and this bill becoming law. We thank our champions, Congressmen Doug Collins, Hakeem Jeffries, Bob Goodlatte and all of the Members, who again voted unanimously to improve the lives of millions of music creators and fans."

The Recording Academy, which championed the AMP (Allocation for Music Producers) portion of the act that benefits producers and engineers, also issued a statement on the act’s passage by both houses of Congress.

“The trajectory of the Music Modernization Act has shown the power of music creators to effect real change,” said Recording Academy president-CEO Neil Portnow. “From its unanimous approval in the House of Representatives in April, to its passage in the Senate last week, we have seen unprecedented advocacy from the music community. With today's final passage of the bill in the House, we are one step away from the most sweeping music copyright reform since the 8-track tape era, and we look forward to this being signed into law.”

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