Tom Marino (R-Pa.) and Harvey Mason Jr.
Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images
Music Issues Bubble Up To The Top Of The Discussion In Washington
“Creating a better copyright system for a healthy music industry takes time. Fortunately, the ball is rolling on a few critical topics in music that affect songwriters, performers and concertgoers.” –Conversations In Advocacy #47
At this week’s hearing in the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law-- perhaps the committee’s final hearing of the 115th Congress—the discussion hit upon both the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees and automated online concert ticket sales regulations, two hot topics in the music industry. These issues came up repeatedly during the December 12 hearing with the Assistant Attorney General of the Department Of Justice Antitrust Division and the Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission.
As the DOJ embarks on a full-fledged review of the over 1,300 consent decrees, some of which date back hundreds of years, the ASCAP and BMI decrees have frequently been brought up by the agency, lawmakers and affected stakeholders. As the DOJ reviews these decrees, the music community stands ready to provide expert input and guidance before any decision is finalized.
“We have begun meeting with every interested party from wine shops to restaurant and hotel owners to broadcasters and musicians and songwriters,” Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim told a House Judiciary subcommittee. “We have not made any conclusions of what the outcome of that review should be. But we will be carefully looking at it and consulting with you consistent with the Music Modernization Act.”
Delrahim went on to agree with Subcommittee Chairman Tom Marino (R-Pa.) that he’d be willing to work with Congress to ensure that any decision by the DOJ would not prove disruptive. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), the incoming chairman of the full committee, also addressed the consent decrees in his remarks and questioning, pledging to remain focused on music issues in a post MMA world.
The hearing then moved toward the BOTS (Better Online Ticket Sales) Act, which the Recording Academy helped pass in 2016. Rep. Marino asked about the actions being taken to address the issue of online robots buying up tickets for events in order to jack up prices on the resale market. Honorable Joseph J. Simons, Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission pointed to a workshop planned for March 2019 where the FTC plans to get educated on the matter and effectively enforce the resale market, reassuring this committee this is a high priority.
“We’re actively engaged,” said Hon. Simons. “We are focused on this.”
As 2018 nears its end, these issues will continue to bubble up to the surface and help shape the next steps for a healthier landscape for everyone involved in music.
"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.