It's Time For Music Licensing Laws To Get With The Program
"All the new data tells the story — music is an important part of the U.S. economy and supports nearly 2 million American jobs. But as music keeps growing, the law hasn't kept up. The Music Modernization Act is a necessary step for improving the livelihoods of the many creators who bring music to the world." — Conversations In Advocacy #18
According to the 2017 Global Music Report produced by the IFPI, the global trade body for recorded music, the value of music produced in the United States constitutes over one-third of the total global market. Furthermore, the April 2018 study "U.S. Music Industries: Jobs & Benefits" prepared on behalf of the RIAA found that our domestic music industry grew at the staggering rate of 37 percent during the three-year period from 2012–2015, reaching a total valuation of over $133 billion while providing a combined $72.5 billion dollars in total employee earnings and adding more than $143 billion in net value to the U.S. economy.
Take a moment to consider these figures.
This is an industry that is a global leader in value creation in a massive international marketplace, as well as in our domestic economy, an industry that provided over 1.75 million jobs in 2015 alone, a growth of more than 41 percent from 2012. Additionally, technologies like on-demand streaming and digital broadcast radio have supported this impressive growth in music consumption and value creation.
So, does it make sense that an industry leading the charge for an ever-growing global marketplace is still governed by laws that have remained largely unchanged since the 8-track tape era?
Of course not.
The good news is that a future in which licensing laws recognize the reality of our modern day digital music ecosystem is fast approaching. Just one week ago, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the Music Modernization Act (MMA), a long-awaited piece of legislation that incorporates some of the most-needed revisions to music licensing law that have been supported by the Recording Academy in recent years.
The MMA will close the compensation loophole for works of recorded music created prior to 1972, which are currently exploited by digital platforms without compensating artists. In addition, the MMA will increase industry efficiency and transparency by establishing a single licensing entity to administer mechanical licensing for songwriters, all while making it easier for internet platforms and streaming services to lawfully license the music in the first place. And for the first time, it will recognize the contributions of producers and engineers in copyright law.
Having passed the House of Representatives with a unanimous 415–0 vote, and having ridden a wave of bipartisan, cross-industry support rarely seen in U.S. politics during its prior review period by the House Judiciary Committee, the MMA now heads to the Senate with an inarguable mandate.
It is imperative that Congress finish the work of passing the MMA so that the president can sign the bill into law before the end of the year.
"Conversations in Advocacy" is your weekend digital tip sheet on music advocacy and the policies that affect music makers and their craft. New installments post every Friday.