We have an opportunity now to work with streaming companies to significantly advance digital mechanical licensing efficiency and transparency.” “American songwriters have looked forward to this advance in music licensing for years,” said Steve Bogard, award-winning songwriter and President of the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI). “The MLC creates a number of historic gains for songwriters including participation in the governance of a mechanical rights agency on both board and committee levels and being guaranteed an activity-based share of unclaimed funds.
NMPA President & CEO David Israelite praised the Copyright Office’s decision saying, “This has been a long, deliberative process and we are pleased with the result. The Copyright Office set a high bar and the team behind the MLC submission was transparent, thorough and representative of the entire music publishing and songwriting community. We look forward to seeing the benefits of the Music Modernization Act come to fruition. As we now move to the funding phase, it is critical that the digital services commit to supporting the MLC properly and become more transparent, starting with disclosing the amount of unmatched money currently at their companies.”
The MLC plans to move quickly on all fronts in order to fully launch in January of 2021, the announcement continues. If a funding agreement cannot be voluntarily determined, the MLC and the digital services will go before the Copyright Royalty Board, which will set the MLC's budget through an assessment proceeding.
Copyright Office today announced that it has designated the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) — which is backed by the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), and the Songwriters of North America (SONA) — as the new entity tasked with licensing and administering rights under the Music Modernization Act. The U.S.
SONA Executive Director Michelle Lewis praised the decision saying, “SONA would like to thank Karyn Temple and the US Copyright Office for their efforts and their expertise, and we welcome the designation of the coalition-led MLC as the chosen licensing collective. We intend to work with this MLC to help educate all songwriters on the importance of accurate registration and to ensure that a state of the art database be built, serving all entitled parties to receive the royalties they have rightfully earned."” /> SONA will remain committed to being a guardian of the MMA, which we and other stakeholders worked so hard to pass.
Non-voting members include NMPA EVP & GC Danielle Aguirre and NSAI Executive Director Bart Herbison. The MLC was chosen over a group called the American Mechanical Licensing Collective. The designated MLC’s board includes chairman Alisa Coleman (ABKCO) and directors Jeff Brabec (BMG), Peter Brodsky (Sony/ATV), Bob Bruderman (Kobalt), Tim Cohan (peermusic), Scott Cutler (Pulse Music Group), Paul Kahn (Warner/Chappell Music), David Kokakis (UMPG), Mike Molinar (Big Machine Music), Evelyn Paglinawan (Concord Music), Kara DioGuardi (Songs by KDG), Oak Felder (Crow’s Tree Publishing), Kevin Kadish (We Are Made of Music), and Tim Nichols (THiS Music).
According to the announcement, the decision allows the group to formally begin operations. This will include the negotiation of a budget with the digital streaming services who, by law, must fund the collective. It will also include partnering with a vendor to provide administration and matching services and development of a user portal through which publishers and songwriters will be able to manage rights and royalties.

As in the House, the new Senate bill combines three separate pieces of legislation:
– The Music Modernization Act of 2018, S.2334, introduced by Hatch and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) in January, which updates licensing and royalties as pertains to streaming.
“That the Senate has wisely decided to import the version of the bill that passed the House 415-0 is a strong signal that this bill has achieved the necessary support and consensus in the Senate to have a similar path of passing with a very large margin,” Israelite told Variety, noting there has been no serious opposition among senators. The industry applauded this latest move to update the nation’s music laws.
We look forward to working with the sponsors and the entire community of stakeholders that built accord on this package to make it law.” “Taken together, the elements of this legislation will strengthen and protect the rights and interests of creators — the artists, songwriters and producers whose music enriches our lives – and it will improve engagement between the creative community and the digital services whose businesses rely on their work. “On behalf of the 150,000-plus music creators represented by SoundExchange, we are grateful to Senator Hatch for building this consensus legislative package that will benefit the entire music ecosystem,” SoundExchange president and CEO Michael Huppe said in a statement.
“In this case everybody recognizes that this is a complicated bill and so late in Congress – this is an election year – Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Hatch were very smart to make the decision [to adopt the House bill]. “This is exactly what we were hoping they would do,” Israelite said of the Senate move.
Having opposed the House version, background music company Music Choice as well as SiriusXM are those expected to oppose Senate passage, but they are among a small minority; the industry overwhelmingly supports the bill Hatch called “crucially important” earlier this year, stating, “our music licensing laws are convoluted, out-of-date, and don’t reward songwriters fairly for their work. They’ve also failed to keep up with recent, rapid changes in how Americans purchase and listen to music.”
Mike O’Neill, BMI. This legislation represents an unprecedented collaboration among music creators and users, and represents an historic opportunity to make meaningful music licensing reform which will benefit America’s creative communities." President & CEO, said: “BMI applauds the introduction today, by Senators Hatch and Grassley, of the Music Modernization Act.
– The AMP Act  (or Allocation for Music Producers Act), introduced in March by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley(R-LA) and ranking committee member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA.) with the support of and Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Kamala Harris (D-CA).
– The CLASSICS Act (or Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, & Important Contributions to Society Act), introduced in February by Chris Coons (D-DE) and John Kennedy (R-LA) to ensure that songwriters and artists receive royalties on pre-1972 songs.
The fact that the bill was introduced prior to the scheduled hearing is also seen as a fast-tracking move. The Senate bill is expected to go into markup and get the full Senate vote next month, and then on the president’s desk to be signed into law.
The fact that the Senate bill, S.2823, is virtually identical to HR 5477 – the House MMA bill passed unanimously on April 25 – signals all systems go for smooth passage and an update to music laws that the industry has been laboring to update for the past decade. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) today introduced the Music Modernization Act.
This legislation is critical to ensuring songwriters have a pathway to fair compensation so they can sustain their livelihoods and create the next great songs. We look forward to the Senate’s vote and eventual passage of the MMA.” We applaud the leadership of fellow songwriter Senator Hatch, along with Senators Alexander and Whitehouse, for spearheading this effort in the Senate and to Chairman Grassley and all other co-sponsors for being champions of American songwriters. ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews said, “After a unanimous vote to pass the MMA in the House, we are thrilled to see such ardent, bipartisan support for music creators in the Senate.
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“The introduction of the comprehensive MMA in the Senate before the hearing is an important step to ensure all music creators are treated fairly in the law. Songwriters, performers and producers are grateful to Senator Hatch for his leadership,” Recording Academy chief industry, government and member relations officer Daryl Friedman told Variety.
Hatch is a composer and member of ASCAP, with ditties like “The Answer’s Not in Washington” (“…We legislate, we demonstrate, but when all is said and done, the answer’s not in Washington”) and the love ballad “Everything and More,” recorded by country artist Billy Gilman on his 2005 album. Hatch, like his counterpart House MMA champion Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), has announced he will retire at the end of this session, making the Music Modernization Act initiative a swansong for both men.
The bill has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee and has been scheduled for hearing Tuesday.

The switch to a market-based rate standard for artists and writers, closing the pre-1972 loophole that denied digital compensation to legacy artists and the addition of copyright royalties for producers and engineers are other changes widely hailed as improvements by a wide range of industry organizations, from the Recording Academy and the RIAA to ASCAP, BMI, the American Association of Independent Music and the American Federation of Musicians. A key provision of the bill is for Congress to establish the equivalent of a SoundExchange for songwriters to track credits and distribute royalties when digital services use their work.
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The newly unified Music Modernization Act has been noticed by the House for markup on Wednesday. It combines proposals originally introduced in four separate bills: the Allocation for Music Producers (AMP) Act, the CLASSICS Act, the Fair Play Fair Pay Act, and a songwriter-specific version of the Music Modernization Act.
Testifying at a Congressional field hearing in New York City during Grammy Week, Recording Academy president Neil Portnow referenced “productive discussions” with broadcasters about radio performance royalties for artists. Then, as now, Portnow emphasized how “the lack of a radio performance royalty in the U.S. discredits our commitment to intellectual property.” At the field hearing Portnow further emphasized that the U.S. is “the only nation in the developed world where radio can use an artist’s work without permission or compensation.” Songwriters are paid for radio play. Portnow harkened back to 2014, when he was one of the first in the music industry to call for an end to the factionalized squabbling that had triggered internecine battles, urging unification around combined legislation.
“As part of the House Judiciary Committee’s copyright review we have worked with members and stakeholders to ensure that these laws are working in the digital age to reward creativity and protect the rights of authors, artists, and creators,” Goodlatte told Variety on the eve of the new bill’s introduction. The move is spearheaded by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). “Technology continues to rapidly advance [and] we must ensure that our copyright system can keep pace.
Senate support is led by Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT). Goodlatte had previously introduced the Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, and Important Contributions to Society, or “CLASSICS” Act, from which the new bill draws.
It appears to be on a fast track, with the Senate expected to introduce its version next month, paving the way for President Trump’s signature. Goodlatte has worked closely on the bipartisan effort with Judiciary Committe ranking democrat Jerrold Nadler of New York. Although the bill has bi-partisan support, the legislation’s provisions – which have advanced piecemeal in various bills over the past four years – have a free-market thrust popular with Republicans over the years, which means it is unlikely to meet with executive branch opposition.
“Much of the current licensing system was established in an analog song-by-song era using compulsory licenses first established in 1909,” he shared, demonstrating a depth of knowledge that only a small percentage of working members of the music community share. “In addition, artists who recorded works prior to 1972 do not receive any digital performance royalties under federal law, and current statute does not ensure that non-recording artists such as producers, sound engineers, and mixers receive revenue from webcasts of their work.”
Licensing reform for the 21st century music industry is expected to take a step forward Tuesday with the introduction of a new Music Modernization Act that combines key provisions of what were four separate legislative initiatives into a single bill that will update how music rates are set and how songwriters and artists are paid.
copyright law regarding music licensing,” said the chairman, who had previously announced he would retire at the end of this term, making the Music Modernization Act a legacy effort that has galvanized his supporters on the hill. Goodlatte, too, harkened back to the January field hearing, calling it a flash point for bipartisan consensus. “I am pleased the Committee will be moving a consensus bill designed to significantly update several key provisions of U.S.
One important provision that is not included is the Fair Play Fair Pay provision that would require songwriters be paid for songs played on broadcast radio, heretofore considered “promotional.” That provision – strongly opposed by the National Association of Broadcasters and championed by the Recording Academy – will presumably be addressed separately.