Last Wednesday (April 11), United States’ House Judiciary Committee voted unanimously (32-0) to approve the Music Modernization Act. It is a big step towards clarifying how musicians, songwriters, producers and engineers get paid in the age of streaming, as the current laws are out of date. The bill has had great support from many musicians and music organizations, and for this blog post I would like to break it down for you:
1) A single agency will be formed to make sure everyone gets paid accurately and on time. One of the biggest problems of the music industry today are that there are so many actors on all sides that pay the artists and it’s so hard to keep track of your royalties from Spotify, Apple music, Pandora, downloads, CDs, YouTube etc… The new bill will create an agency that is in charge of mechanical reproduction rights of all digital uses of musical compositions, and we will all get paid through this system – accurately and in a timely manner.
2) Recordings made before 1972 can finally get paid as well. Yes, you read that right. Currently only sound recordings made after 1972 receive payments from digital radio services under federal law. The new revision to the Copyright law would benefit artists and music creators who recorded music before 1972 by establishing royalty payments whenever their music is played on digital radio. SoundExchange would distribute royalties for pre-’72 recordings played by Internet, cable and satellite radio services just as it does for post-’72 recordings.
3) Finally producers and sound engineers can get paid as well. The current law also does not require producers and audio engineers to get paid for their work. Crazy, right? They have an indispensable role in the creation of sound recordings, and finally they will get paid for their hard work. The bill codifies into law the producer’s right to collect digital royalties and provides a consistent, permanent process for studio professionals to receive royalties for their contributions to the creation of music.
The best part about the bill is that almost the entire music industry is on board with it. The law benefits everyone, reduces bureaucracy, everyone gets paid more and most importantly, it reduces the costs for everyone. It prevents many different potential lawsuits between various parties (which also reduces legal costs significantly) in the music industry and establishes a clear authority to rectify copyright issues.
Currently the bill is on fast track for the senate, and should be passed pretty quickly, as it has support of both parties. About this, Aerosmith cofounder Steven Tyler said: “I am ecstatic and relieved that the House Judiciary passed the Music Modernization Act out of committee today and onto the House floor, then onto the Senate.” The bill is critical for the viability of the music industry in the 21st century, and it is a big win for everyone.
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Alper Tuzcu is a Berklee College of Music and Denison University alumni, and a Boston based guitarist, songwriter and producer. His new EP ‘Lines’ was released on November 2017 and his debut eclectic album ‘Between 12 Waters’ featuring 8 different vocalists is available on Spotify. In addition to being a musician, he regularly teaches workshops and masterclasses internationally. You can follow him on Instagram or Twitter, and for more information you can visit his website www.alpertuzcu.com