It is no surprise that the music business has been cheering the Music Modernization Act as it was signed into law by President Trump yesterday. It had already unanimously passed votes in the United States Senate and the House of Representatives, so this presidential signing was a mere formality. But the fact it was now enshrined in law and, in doing so, marked significant reforms in US copyright law saw key industry organisations step forward to applaud it. There was also a mixed bag of musicians at the White House to witness the moment, including the vocally pro-Trump Kid Rock, Kanye West and Mike Love of The Beach Boys. The key updates to copyright law include: the creation of a songwriter- and publisher-led body that will oversee the creation and running of a mechanical licensing database paid for by digital streaming services; the closing of a loophole that previously meant digital radio stations did not have to pay artist royalties on tracks released before 15th February 1972 (The CLASSICS Act); a uniform payment process for royalties to be paid to producers and engineers (The AMP Act); a market-based rate standard for statutory licenses; and a streamlining of the steps involved in the processing of unclaimed royalties.
NMPA CEO David Israelite said, “Songwriters have for too long labored without seeing fair rates and receiving all that they deserve, and for the first time in history, the music industry has partnered with the tech industry to fix these systemic problems.” RIAA president Mitch Glazier added, “The result is a music market better founded on fair competition and fair pay. The enactment of this law demonstrates what music creators and digital services can do when we work together collaboratively to advance a mutually beneficial agenda.” Speaking on behalf of the indie community, A2IM CEO Richard Burgess said, “The signing of this bill represents a significant step towards better lives for music creators and those that support them. A standing ovation is greatly deserved for all involved in this historic achievement.” From the DSP side, Spotify’s general counsel and VP of business & legal affairs Horacio Gutierrez said, “The MMA will benefit the music community and create a more transparent and streamlined approach to music licensing and payment for artists.”
While industry figures were effusive about the presidential signing, Billboard reports that the heads of/senior figures at RIAA, SoundExchange, MUSICFirst, ASCAP and BMI all had their invitations to the White House withdrawn. Representatives, however, from the Digital Media Association, NMPA, Nashville Songwriters Association International and the Recording Academy were there.