written by Justin Harrison
“To obtain fair market value royalty rates and treatment for music creators in the digital era”
I first came across the Music Modernization Act watching an interview with Joe Rogan and Steven Tyler. Steven Tyler went into this whole explanation that this he is totally happy and rich, and has the life he wants, but for new artists or artists like Smokey Robinson who aren’t getting paid by streaming services like Spotify the current platform isn’t fair. He also stated that this is the first change in the law for the music industry since 1909 (which was put in place for player piano rolls). So, at first, I was thinking this is a good thing. Time to find out what this is all about.
There is a lot of talk regarding this subject on the internet, and several industry magazines (Billboard, Variety, Rolling Stone, etc…) have articles as well. When the bill was introduced, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) explained there were two main points. One, the Bill will solve the problem of unmatched works so that digital music providers are protected from liability, and song writers will receive the royalties they’re due. Secondly, will better align royalties for song writers with royalties for recording artists and with market demand it will bring much needed transparency to music licensing system creating a public database that identifies the works and their owners. He also explained that Our laws haven’t kept up with the digital age, and with online streaming services, songwriters are either not being paid, or not being paid a fair market value which is their right under the constitution. In 2016, 86 million paying subscribers listened to 252 billion streams. These Streaming services (Amazon, Apple, Spotify, and Pandora) generated more than half of the music industries revenue.
There is a lot more to it regarding the who, what, and where, but the Bill seems to be directed for song writers, record companies, and streaming services. As far as performers, the bill will replace law that was initiated in the 1940’s and will allow ASCAP and BMI to be able to present new evidence regarding fair market value for performing artists. Which previously was decided by a judge in the south district of New York.
In conclusion, this act isn’t to support local artists, but to stop companies from using someone else’s material to make money and not pay what is fair market value. If you want to support local musicians, go to their show, buy their merchandise and music, and tip the bands they deserve it. This Bill may be a good start, but the starving musician will only be paid fair market value by the people who support local musicians. The industry will continue to reap the rewards of the hard-working artists.