This week, Communications Daily Assistant Editor Karl Herchenroeder penned an article on the growing support in the U.S. Senate behind the Music Modernization Act. The full story can be read below.
More than half the Senate supports the Music Modernization Act, with five lawmakers signing onto the legislation last week, bringing sponsorship to 51. An aide for Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the bill’s author, told us his office is continuing to push for floor action. Hatch is hopeful for passage this year, given the last-minute compromise on an initially controversial amendment from Texas Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn.
“All I know is that we need to get that done,” Hatch told us. “If we don’t get it done, we’re going to ruin the music industry.” An aide for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., couldn’t offer a legislative schedule beyond last week.
“We are very close to having finally resolved our small but remaining differences,” Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., an original co-sponsor, told us. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and SiriusXM, for different reasons, oppose the Compensating Legacy Artists for Their Songs, Service and Important Contributions to Society (Classics) Act (S-2393) portion. Sirius is trying to avoid paying for use of pre-1972 sound recordings. Wyden and Public Knowledge raised concerns about orphan works, or music from artists who can’t be identified or found. An aide said Wyden is continuing to talk with Coons and is hopeful the Classics portion is addressed, but he supports the music copyright package. Sirius didn’t comment.
“I’ve been here long enough to realize that the distance from full to half to quarter to eighth — that last little gap — can be the hardest to sometimes close,” Coons told us. “I thought we had this several weeks ago, but I’m optimistic that we’re there now.” Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., another original co-sponsor, is hopeful for a decision this year. The legislation passed the House and the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously.
Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) Executive Director Bart Herbison said he will be on Capitol Hill this week trying to round up additional sponsors. Songwriters of North America (SONA), RIAA, the Recording Academy and National Music Publishers Association will join in varying capacities, he said. Herbison complimented Blackstone, parent of performing rights organization SESAC, for negotiating to “move the ball toward” a final vote. He’s hopeful the legislation will be sent back to the House for final consideration in late September, to avoid complications with November elections. Offices for House bill authors Reps. Doug Collins, R-Ga., and Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., didn’t comment. Herbison said he will target 14 Senate offices. Additional co-sponsors signing on last week were Sens. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.; Jerry Moran, R-Kan.; Tim Scott, R-S.C.; Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.; and Deb Fischer, R-Neb.
Draft legislation with the Cruz-Cornyn amendment was sent to Cruz’s office, said SONA steering committee member Adam Gorgoni. He acknowledged continued resistance from Wyden and SiriusXM and criticized the latter for attempting to uphold a “below-market” rate structure. It’s “crazy” Sirius has a “60s on 6” channel and doesn’t pay those artists but pays full royalties for its “80s on 8” channel, he said. “Songwriters have gotten short end of the stick in the digital market,” Gorgoni said, saying it would be a shame if this hard-fought, consensus legislation doesn’t cross the finish line.