Music Modernization Act Passed by Senate

The Music Modernization Act was approved unanimously by the Senate this week. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), includes a number of provisions such as establishing a SoundExchange-like entity for songwriters, adjusting rate standards, and creating a public performance right for pre-1972 recordings. However, the legislation does not include a new performance tax on terrestrial broadcasting. Also significant, the Senate-passed bill includes language enhancing congressional review over movement by the U.S. Department of Justice to terminate existing consent decrees with ASCAP and BMI, performing rights organizations that together cover more than 90 percent of musical works broadcast over the air.

“With this bill, we are one step closer to historic reform for our badly outdated music laws,” said Hatch in a statement. “The Music Modernization Act provides a solution, and it does so in a way that brings together competing sides of the music industry and both sides of the political spectrum.”

Notably, former Sen. Gordon Smith, president & CEO of National Association of Broadcasters, highlighted, “We are particularly supportive of a provision added to the Senate bill ensuring enhanced congressional review of any DOJ changes to ASCAP and BMI consent decrees. These decrees are essential to a functioning music marketplace, and any action to terminate them will now be preceded by appropriate Congressional oversight to protect the interests of songwriters, licensees, and consumers of music.”

A previous version of this legislation passed out of the House of Representatives without dissent earlier this year. This modified version must be passed by the House before going to the President for signature into law.

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: September 21, 2018

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