Donald Trump signed the long-awaited The Music Modernization Act, or MMA, and a small group of music industry representatives and artists known for their loyalty to the president, such as Kid Rock and John Rich, attended the event.
The initiative, which began several years ago, took shape last year in a bill - though its creators had to make significant compromises. The project proposes a completely new set of rules for the music publishing industry - and the hope that from now on the revenues of authors and publishers will be higher.
Trump said that the Music Modernization Act was designed to close gaps in the rules for calculating royalties on digital platforms and made remuneration for authors, performers and producers more fair. Royalty free music can be found on various platforms, which can be further used in your commercial and not only commercial projects.
Trump sympathizers Kid Rock, Beach Boys vocalist Mike Love, and country music stars Craig Morgan and John Rich were in attendance. Also attending the ceremony were musicians from the Christian rock band MercyMe and Doobie Brothers guitarist Jeff Baxter, who switched his musical career to being a missile defense expert. Kanye West was also expected at the White House, but he disappeared.
Soul music legend Sam Moore (of the duo Sam & Dave) noted how long the bill had been delayed: "With Mr. Bush we failed. Under the Obama administration, too. But with this man we got it done.
The bill is finally a working law. Authors have worked too long without receiving fair royalties with experts from the modern technology industry to correct systemic flaws. And, at the same time, as we embarked on a dramatic overhaul of the system under the new law, it was especially gratifying to see strong, conscious support from creators. Today will determine their future, and this project will prove that we can do a lot if we work together.
It is important to note an aspect of the new legislation that concerns mainly classical music - the authors of recordings made before 1972 will now receive fair royalties. In addition, the SoundExchange will provide automatic payments to producers and sound engineers according to contracts previously signed with performers.
The Music Modernization Act is now signed into law, benefiting thousands of creators and artists," said Mitch Glaser, president of the Recording Industry Association of America, "It will result in a fairer playing field and fairer rules for the music industry. When this law takes effect, music creators and digital services will be able to work together for full mutual benefit. This is a great day for music. We hope music lovers will join in the celebration and celebrate this great day by turning their favorite music up loud!es, and for the first time in the history of the music industry, its best minds have j
Neil Portnow, president and CEO of the Recording Academy, was equally optimistic about the signing: "We celebrate not only the triumph of harmony and unity, but also the work of thousands of performers, writers and professionals in the recording industry. From now on, these efforts will be rewarded in a worthy manner by satellite and digital services. We express our gratitude to Congress for its decision to introduce rules that meet the requirements of the 21st century.
But now that the law has been signed, the work will get really thick, especially given the complaints of music publishers. After all, in addition to changes in the royalty redistribution algorithm assigned by the Copyright Royalty Board, and the usual alignment with ASCAP and BMI ratings, the new law involves the launch of automatic licensing and the work of an entire department that monitors and administers the accrual of payments to authors and publishers.
"The President's signing of the Music Modernization Act is the culmination of a gargantuan scale clash between the music industry and information technology companies, leading to their alliance," said American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) head Richard Burgess in a statement. "In this digital age, people enjoy hitherto impossible access to listening to music. The signing of this law is a step toward a better life for those who make music and those who support them. And this historic accomplishment deserves a standing ovation.
Nevertheless, some sources warn that after the signing there will be a serious challenge to the paragraphs of the law.
Moreover, the task of the new supervisory body will be to create a comprehensive public database, which is designed to correctly catalog music recordings, and this has never really succeeded so far.
And it is impossible not to note: in the near future, after the adoption of the law, those companies that, in theory, should be left out - Music Reports Inc., Harry Fox Agency, Audiam and others - are likely to expect a surge of activity, as music publishers will check how carefully the new rules are implemented in relation to them.
Today President Trump enacted a bill that will finally adjust the concept of copyright in the digital age," John Josephson, chairman of SESAC (European Society for the Protection of Copyright) and owner of Harry Fox Agency, wrote in an official statement, "We honor with an ovation those who have worked hard for the new law, especially the senators who made sure that the bill was approved by the White House. We are grateful to the community of authors and publishers who are inspiring the industry for generations to come.
Today's signing of the MMA is a historic step," said Michael Huppe, head of SoundExchange, "But more importantly, we've made clear the meaning of the new rules. For those who recorded music before 1974, the new law means fairer pay. For writers, publishers and producers, it means - the digital industry now works for them. The contribution of SoundExchange's 170,000-strong audience to getting the bill to the White House by Congress cannot be overlooked. When the music industry comes together in one voice, Congress listens.
An important component of the bill: from now on, the regulation of tariffs in the market depends on the choice of the market and the competent balance of cost/price of the product. Another aspect: two options that greatly embarrassed authors and publishers are abolished - the former agreements that prevented the correct distribution of royalties, as well as the inability to understand the former royalties. The idea is that rates are now set from scratch, depending on agreements with publishers.
As a young songwriter once said: “ put at least a little love into your work, and it will surely be rewarded. You will be remembered for your words and your deeds" . Decades later, this has become absolutely true. I'm sure songwriters across our country will remember this day and all those who fought for the passage of the Act - including those in Congress. And from the music community, I want to express my gratitude and promise that our music will inspire generations to come.
Williams' optimistic tone was echoed by songwriter emeritus Ross Golan: "The history of the music industry is built on the bones of performers and writers. So it's not surprising that today performers and songwriters are urging the industry to think about the future. We're no longer going to be this collective slave-slave. We're here, and there are many of us. It used to be said that songwriters were no more organized than a pack of stray cats. But we managed to unite into a lion's pride."
At the same time, individual industry representatives complain that the adoption of MMA will hurt their business, and activists from SONA (a North American authors' organization) and the National Authors Association directly challenge them to a debate by "bombarding" the social networks with relevant propaganda. Nevertheless, it was the will of Congress that finally pitted the opposing parties against each other in a legal battle - and brought them to the necessary compromise.
The innovation benefits (financially) not only the authors, but also the streaming services - the "nullification" of the former licensing deals insures them against claims of copyright infringement, if they comply with the new rules.
Spotify, for example, actively supports the new law and scolds the old one - "One of our main goals is to allow millions of artists to make money doing exactly what they love and can do best - creating and performing music." In an official statement, Spotify General Counsel Horacio Gutierrez says, "The new law is a huge step away from the outdated licensing system and toward harmony with the terms of the digital world we already live in. The MMA will reward the music community on its merits and make the licensing scheme and royalties to artists more transparent."
The inability of music services, and in some cases their administrators, to correctly deduct royalties has resulted in a number of very large lawsuits over unpaid royalties. Most of these conflicts have been settled, but Spotify, for example, is still suing music publishers Wixen over a $1.6 million lawsuit filed late last year.
But the MMA will provide insurance against such cases - if the digital services comply with the established rules, which come into force at the beginning of next year. Which means that Wixen will have to hurry up with its, frankly, exaggerated lawsuit. However, industry experts do not rule out that the Wixen case will become a precedent for similar lawsuits in the future.
"Thanks to unrelenting pressure from our clients, industry bosses and key individuals in Congress have finally created a relatively bland future for songwriters," this from ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews' statement, "Our unanimous message to the Senate and the White House serves as proof that music is a great unifying force. Our organization is proud to have always stood with authors, publishers and many others, those whose dreams we are now pursuing."
To this is left to add the words of BMI President Mike O'Neill: "This is truly a historic moment for the music industry, especially for American songwriters and composers, who will certainly feel the benefit of the innovations. This process has cost a lot of effort and struggle, and has proven that industry stakeholders can come together for the future of music. We're kind of shocked by the outcome, and it's a credit to musicians and digital platforms alike. BMI will continue to fight for the rights of music creators in the digital age, but we want to sincerely thank Congress and the president for introducing the most meaningful music licensing reform in decades.
SONA top executives Michelle Lewis and Kay Hanley echoed that sentiment in an official statement: "Our sonographer community would like to thank Congress and industry colleagues for implementing a plan we didn't have much faith in. Compromise and consensus is what the MMA bill represents. The moment President Trump signs it into law, the future of music and the people who make it will be decided.
In fact, the president's signature alone was not enough. A small part of the industry feared that Trump, notoriously arrogant, would decide at the last minute not to indulge the musicians, most of whom had expressed an unequivocal "fi" to the president during the election. The U.S. election is hot, and many musicians were seriously affected by the use of their music as part of the Republican campaign.
Some argue that even if Trump had rejected the bill, it would have passed in Congress, thanks to a majority vote and in spite of the famous stubbornness of the chief.
But Trump eventually signed the law, and as SONA General Counsel Dina Lapolt notes in a statement - "The unifying power of music was able to reconcile the conflicting parties and unanimously pass the new law. The president's signature allows us to give confidence in the future for today's generations and those to come. There are not enough words for me to express my pride in SOMA and all the writers who helped cross this important line! And now the real work begins."
That's right. Now let's observe the work of the responsible team.