The Senate Judiciary Committee Approves The Music Modernization Act

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has approved S. 2823, the Music Modernization Act (MMA), unanimously by voice vote. The bill was amended to include increased oversight and ensure greater transparency in the operation of the Mechanical Licensing Collective. Additionally, amendments were accepted to promote communication between the Department of Justice and Congress regarding any future changes to the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees, as well as to educate copyright owners and songwriters as to the unclaimed royalties process that will be carried out by the new collective.

Senators voted unanimously in favor of the legislation, which now may be considered by the full Senate for passage. If passed by the full Senate, the House of Representatives will need to accept the Senate version before sending to the President for signature. The House previously passed its version of the MMA unanimously.

NAB Pres./CEO GORDON SMITH said, ““NAB strongly supports the Music Modernization Act, and applauds the efforts of Chairman GRASSLEY, Ranking Member FEINSTEIN, and Senators HATCH, WHITEHOUSE and their cosponsors on this bill. This balanced legislation provides much needed reforms to the music licensing market to the benefit of songwriters, legacy recording artists, producers, digital streaming services and music users. 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 RECORDING ACADEMY Pres./CEO NEIL PORTNOW said, “Great music comes from great harmonies. As the organization representing all creators, we are gratified to see the industry and Congress work in harmony to pass the Music Modernization Act through the Senate Judiciary Committee. Following years of advocacy by music creators, we look forward to that momentum continuing as the Music Modernization Act heads to the Senate floor. We thank the Committee for its swift movement of the bill. Through collaboration we can truly make a difference for the hundreds of thousands of working music creators across the country.”

THE MUSICFIRST COALITION issued the following statement, “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. It is no surprise the bill sailed through markup with bipartisan support. It is the product of years of careful negotiation with backing from the entire music community, including artists, digital music groups, labels and internet companies. We are grateful to Senators HATCH, FEINSTEIN, COONS, GRASSLEY and the many others who worked on this consensus legislation for their leadership and support. We are now one crucial step away from sending this meaningful legislation to the President’s desk to be signed into law.”

NMPA Pres./CEO DAVID ISRAELITE praised the vote saying, “Today’s vote is a huge step towards the Music Modernization Act becoming law. We are pleased that the MMA as approved by the Committee builds upon the fundamental compromise between music creators and digital services that will greatly benefit songwriters. With the many important stakeholders involved, it is no small feat for the MMA to have made it this far, and once the MMA is signed into law, songwriters will see more of the money they deserve from streaming services who currently operate off of laws from 1909 and consent decrees from 1941. We thank Chairman GRASSLEY, Ranking Member FEINSTEIN, Senator HATCH, Senator WHITEHOUSE, Senator ALEXANDER, and all of the Senators who have supported MMA for their leadership in helping those behind the music and their steadfast commitment to updating laws that are egregiously behind the times. We look forward to seeing the full Senate pass the MMA.”

The MIC COALITION released the following statement, “MIC COALITION members worked with stakeholders in the music community to develop a consensus on this issue and we applaud the Senate Judiciary Committee for their willingness to include our agreement in the MMA. The bipartisan effort reflects a unified message from music users, including most recently more than 1,100 bars, hotels, restaurants and wineries who wrote to the DOJ asking it to preserve the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees in order to protect their ability to play music, host new and local artists, and avoid substantial marketplace chaos. The MIC COALITION is pleased to support the Manager’s Amendment as it is considered in the Senate Judiciary Committee. This legislation is an important step in the right direction. The MIC COALITION will continue to work to ensure that the decrees remain in place until an alternative framework is established to ensure simple, fair and non-discriminatory licensing of public performances of musical works.”

BMI Pres./CEO MIKE O’NEILL offered the following response: “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.”