After November’s midterm elections, a restructured Congress and Supreme Court are likely to transform immigration, union labor and health care -- broad issues that also would directly affect working musicians in the United States. For labels and artists alike, the most imminent political concern is the Music Modernization Act. And thanks to a recently reached handshake deal between Sens. Chris Coons (D-DE, a lead proponent) and Ron Wyden (D-OR, who previously created a roadblock after the MMA passed the House), the legislation is seemingly on a path to pass in the Senate, most likely by the end of this term.
That’s a relief for the RIAA and other advocates who have pushed the MMA for years -- especially since the next Congress is certain to look very different when it convenes in January 2019 and educating newly elected officials on the act could stall its progress. “We all believe the MMA has to pass in this congressional session,” says Daryl P. Friedman, chief industry, government and member relations officer for the Recording Academy. “We have everything lined up. It’s been years in the making.”
The MMA updates payments by allowing artists and publishers to earn royalties on recordings made before 1972 and helps songwriters and producers get paid more efficiently in the streaming era. It cruised unanimously through the House in April and passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in June, but opposition from SiriusXM and music and video services like Music Choice have recently caused delays. Still, it’s one of the rare bills with Republican and Democrat congressional support in this divided political era.