Music Modernization Act Passes and Copyright Royalty Board Rates Upheld

In an unanimous vote yesterday, the Senate approved the Music Modernization Act which led to much celebration in the music community.

ASCAP’s CEO Elizabeth Matthews says, “Today’s unanimous passage of the Music Modernization Act in the Senate represents a Herculean industry-wide effort to promote and celebrate songwriters and ensure their right to a sustainable livelihood. We applaud Senators Hatch, Alexander, Grassley, Feinstein, Whitehouse, Coons and the entire Senate for recognizing the value music has in both society and our hearts.”

The bill combines three separate pieces of legislation:

* The MUSIC MODERNIZATION ACT of 2018, S.2334, introduced by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), updates licensing and royalties as pertains to streaming.

* The CLASSICS ACT (or COMPENSATING LEGACY ARTISTS FOR THEIR SONGS, SERVICE, & IMPORTANT CONTRIBUTIONS TO SOCIETY ACT), introduced by Chris Coons (D-DE) and John Kennedy (R-LA), ensures that songwriters and artists receive royalties on pre-1972 songs.

* The AMP ACT (or ALLOCATION FOR MUSIC PRODUCERS ACT), introduced by Senate Judiciary Commitee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-LA) and ranking committee member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA.) with the support of and Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Kamala Harris (D-CA).

“Many of my fellow songwriters have had to quit the business because they could no longer support their families,” President of the Nashville Songwriters Association International, Steve Bogard said. “This bill gives us the tools to obtain higher royalties for years to come so that songwriting can once again be a sustainable career.” One way the bill would do that is creating a new collections agency, similar to SoundExchange, to help ensure songwriters collect all their due for digital use of their work”.

The bill now moves on to the House and if passed, will then go to the President to become a law.

Also yesterday, the US Court of Appeals upheld the Copyright Royalty Board’s 2015 decision setting the SoundExchange royalty rates for 2016-2020. In 2015 the Copyright Royalty Board announced that the royalty rates for commercial webcasters would be set at $.0017 as the per performance for nonsubscription streaming, and $.0022 per performance for subscription streaming.

This decision means that these rates will likely stay in place through the end of 2020. Attorney David Oxenford says, “That is not far away, and next year, the process will begin again, as the CRB starts its proceeding to determine the rates for 2021-2025,”

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