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Senate wrestles with MMA

New licensing legislation to revolutionize the music industry

The Music Modernization Act could change how streaming companies pay royalties. Photo Credit: Madison Daley

A new act called The Music Modernization Act (MMA) is attempting to update the old licensing and royalty rules to encompass platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora. Music streaming services have become a popular way for people to listen to their favorite artists while paying a monthly fee. However, the copyright laws haven’t been updated since being founded in 1909. By renovating the music licensing and royalty rules to encompass more than just the radio and live performances, it will be easier for the artists to get paid more for the music they’ve created.

The SESAC, a US Performing Rights Organization (PRO), has been halting the process of the MMA being passed. SESAC is an organization that licenses, collects, and distributes royalties for songwriters and artists alike when it comes to performances on the radio, in movies, or played live. This also covers streamed music.

Recently, SESAC wished to amend the bill, saying that their firms would do the administrative work instead of creating another person to do it. However, they had decided to make a compromise with the musicians and those of the industry. According to Ed Christman from Billboard.com, “under the agreement, the collective will now be handling all of the responsibilities in instances where the blanket mechanical compulsory license is employed.” This specific license is given out by the copyright holder so that others can use their work as long as they receive a royalty.

Many musicians and songwriters are sharing pro-MMA thoughts via their Twitter and Instagram in hopes for the best. Ross Golan, a multi-platinum song writer, is outspoken on his social media about his support for the MMA while trying to get others to join the cause. He tweets about writing the senators, such as Ron Wyden, to consider voting yes on the MMA, and also rallies hope, like this example of a Tweet on July 31: “Look around! For the FIRST time in 110 YEARS, the music industry is speaking with ONE voice regardless of genre, company affiliation or politics to pass a bill for OUR future! This movement is OUR legacy! Now 43 Senators have Cosigned the MMA. We need 51! Music Industry ARMY go!”

There have been unanimous votes for the MMA to pass thus far by the House of Representatives and the Senate Judiciary Committee. Now all that is left is the vote from the Senate for it to pass and become law. This step forward will improve the lives of musicians and songwriters everywhere in the United States.

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