This bill was borne from good intentions and a genuine desire by songwriters, publishers and DSPs to solve a problem.
The negotiated and much debated Music Modernization Act is now before our Congress and Senate, two groups embroiled in stalemates on health care, immigration and government shutdowns. Shockingly, this is a bill that looks likely to pass through the aisles of dissent and draw a wide swath of support from both Democrats and Republicans. But what does it mean and why does it matter?
What Is It?: The Music Modernization act, or "MMA" creates a formalized body, run by publishers, that administers the "mechanical licensing" of compositions streamed on services like Spotify and Apple Music (we call them DSPs). It changes the procedure by which millions of songs are made available for streaming on these services and limits the liability a service can incur if it adheres to the new process. It funds the creation of a comprehensive database with buy in from all the major publishers and digital service providers. This would be the first of its kind that has active participation from the major publishers, representing a vast majority of musical works. It also creates a new evidentiary standard by which the performance rights organizations ASCAP and BMI can argue better rates for the performance of musical works on DSPs.