On Thursday morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the Music Modernization Act by unanimous voice vote. The MMA includes language that will formally establish a role for Congress as the Department of Justice reviews consent decrees with the two largest performing rights organizations — ASCAP and BMI — which collectively license over 90% of the musical works that are played on local radio stations. The bill now advances to the full Senate for further consideration. Following the vote there was praise all around.
BMI’s President and CEO Mike O’Neill said, “Today’s vote is an important step towards achieving meaningful music licensing reform that will benefit America’s songwriters, composers and publishers. The MMA, if enacted, will help ensure that music creators are compensated fairly for their work. We applaud the unprecedented collaboration across our industry that helped move this bill forward and thank the full Senate Judiciary Committee, particularly Chairman Grassley, Ranking Member Feinstein, and longtime songwriter advocate Senator Hatch, for their leadership and support of this extremely important piece of legislation.”
ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews also applauded the vote. “We are happy to see this legislation move forward with such broad bipartisan support. While there is still more work to be done to create a fair environment for songwriters in the digital age, we hope the Senate will move swiftly to pass a version of this bill that preserves the much-needed benefits for music creators.”
The NAB issued a statement in strong support of the Act, “In particular, NAB applauds the inclusion of language in today’s managers’ amendment that ensures enhanced Congressional oversight of the DOJ’s announced review of the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees. The framework provided by these decrees is essential to a functioning music marketplace and they were comprehensively reviewed just two years ago with the DOJ concluding that their continued existence is squarely in the public interest. Any action to terminate these decrees must be preceded by Congressional action to ensure that songwriters, licensees, and consumers will not be harmed. NAB looks forward to working with all Senators as the Music Modernization Act moves forward and urges its swift passage.”
The bill also includes the CLASSICS provision that addresses specific legacy issues such as establishing federal copyright protection for artists who recorded their music before February 15, 1972. It also creates a single licensing entity to administer music publishing rights for all digital music and ensure producers and engineers receive royalties for their contributions to the music they help create.
Here’s what musicFIRST Coalition Executive Director Chris Israel said about that: “We applaud the Senate Judiciary Committee for taking a major step today to finally update the outdated laws that currently govern the music industry and harm thousands of music creators by not properly valuing their work. Among them are generations of legacy artists who recorded songs before February 15, 1972 and may finally get justice and fair compensation for use of their songs on digital platforms and satellite radio.”
Read the entire Act HERE.