News Releases

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Isakson Applauds Senate Passage of Music Licensing Reform

Would update music licensing laws for 21st century; ensure fair compensation for songwriters, engineers, producers

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., this week applauded the Senate passage of legislation to reform music licensing law for the 21st century and create a fairer marketplace for songwriters and other content creators.

The package, which is called the Music Modernization Act, combines three previously introduced pieces of legislation—the Music Modernization Act, the Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, & Important Contributions to Society (CLASSICS) Act, and the Allocation for Music Producers (AMP) Act, along with several amendments. It was passed by the Senate this week as H.R.1551.

“The artists, producers and distributers whose work touches our lives and makes our music industry thrive should receive fair compensation,” said Isakson. “As technology changes the way we listen to music, our copyright and licensing laws need to change too. I’m proud to have introduced this bill with Senators Orrin Hatch, Lamar Alexander and joined Congressman Doug Collins and so many others to help our Georgia musicians and this dynamic industry.”

A similar package recently passed the U.S. House of Representatives by an overwhelming vote of 415-0 earlier this year. The legislation has strong support across the music industry and will make a real difference for songwriters, recording artists, producers, sound engineers, digital music companies, and other music stakeholders.

The original legislation introduced in the Senate was led by U.S. Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and a large bipartisan group of senators including Isakson. The bill was reported favorably out of committee by voice vote.

The Music Modernization Act creates a new, simplified licensing system to make it easier for digital music companies to obtain a license for songs. The simplified system will also ensure songwriters are paid the royalties they are owed. Additionally, the bill revises outdated songwriter royalty standards to ensure songwriters are paid a fair market rate for their work.

The Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, & Important Contributions to Society (CLASSICS) Act adjusts compensation for federal copyright protections, which were extended to sound recordings produced after 1972. The legislation requires digital music services to pay for the use of pre-1972 sound recordings in the same way and at the same rate they pay for recordings made after 1972. SoundExchange, the entity that collects and distributes digital performance royalties for sound recordings, will collect royalties for pre-1972 recordings, as it does for recordings made after 1972.

The Allocation for Music Producers (AMP) Act would codify into law the common practice of distributing a share of royalties from a sound recording to the producers and engineers that worked on them. Those producers and engineers who worked on sound recordings would be able to apply for a share of the royalties.