We’re Big MMA Fans

In Beats + Bytes by Nue Agency

There was a lot of buzz in the biz last week about the Music Modernization Act passing the Senate by unanimous consent. As the dynamics of the industry shift, so, too, must the rules of engagement.

The MMA is complex, but the debate breaks down along these basic lines: artists, producers, and engineers are for it while companies like Sirius XM and certain publishers are against it. Those entities say it will cost them a lot of money. The artists, for their part, call it fair pay.

Here’s the cliff’s notes:

◦ Under the MMA, all rights holders will get fair payment (the “willing buyer, willing seller” rate) for online streams. Streams didn’t exist when current copyright laws were enacted, so this aims to clean them up.

◦ The Senate version of the MMA includes The Classics Act, which overrides a 50-year statute that made older works “public domain.” Payments will now be required for online streams of songs released before 1970.

◦ This version of the MMA also includes The AMP Act (Allocations for Music Producers), which enables producers and engineers to participate in SoundExchange. This will boost the royalty payouts made to them for their work. According to the SoundExchange website, the law will “codify SoundExchange’s longtime practice of honoring Letters of Direction from artists who want to share royalties with studio producers and other creative participants who work with them.” It would be the first time producers and engineers are mentioned in copyright law.

Before its trip to the Senate, the MMA enjoyed unilateral support in the House where it will now return for a final vote. Passage would be a big win, one that represents a transfer of wealth from the companies who exploit artists to the artists themselves, all without affecting fans.

Chalk one up for the creators!


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