U.S. Senate Introduces a Bill to Give Music Producers Federal Copyright Protections

After more than a decade of fighting, music producers and sound engineers may finally receive federal copyright protections under U.S Copyright Law.  And, legally-required payments.  Here’s what’s inside the Allocation for Music Producers Act, or AMP, which just moved to the Senate.

We first received word of this last night from the Recording Academy (the group that runs the Grammys).  And the gist is this: a bill that would grant federal copyright protections to both music producers and sound engineers is making serious headway in Congress.

Yesterday, the Allocation of Music Producers Act, or AMP, was formally introduced into the Senate.  That follows a mark-up of the bill in the House earlier this year.  “The bipartisan and now bicameral support for the AMP Act marks the first time U.S. legislation would protect the rights of the studio professionals who help create the essence of the recordings we love,” wrote Daryl Friedman, Chief Industry, Government, & Member Relations Officer at the Recording Academy.  

I Wrote a Hit Song With Justin Bieber. Want to See My Royalties?

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), along with Ranking Members Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Kamala Harris (D-CA), are pushing to bill onto the broader Senate floor.  

We’ve heard that this bill has a very little opposition — and a huge chance of being passed.  After all, let’s help out the producers and engineers, right?

Among other benefits, AMP would give music producers and sound engineers the ability to properly collect royalties from organizations like SoundExchange.   

Currently, SoundExchange splits digital (non-interactive) radio royalties with label and performer, while allocating a percentage for backing musicians and background singers.  AMP would expand that allocation to include producers and engineers.

The Recording Academy told DMN that this bill will be designated as S. 2625.  The bill itself hasn’t been formally entered into the Senate docket, but here’s the official placeholder description:

“A bill to amend title 17, United States Code, to provide for the payment of performance royalties to certain producers, mixers, and sound engineers of sound recordings, and for other purposes.”

A rep from the Recording Academy also mentioned that the bill will probably be very similar to the House version (HR 881).  So we’ll include that below.

Previously, producers and engineers had to rely on ‘upstream’ rights owners to properly pay them. 

So if a producer negotiated a 3% share, that producer then had to receive that payment after SoundExchange made their distributions.  SoundExchange actually simplified that whole process by doing the distributions automatically, but that required opt-in from the artist/label getting paid.  Now, AMP would codify that as standard practice.

Details will undoubtedly be ironed out, though AMP is likely to get passed alongside other music copyright legislation, specifically the CLASSICS Act and the Music Modernization Act.   

Those latter two bills are far larger than AMP, though not without controversy.  Sirius XM, for example, is battling to defeat the CLASSICS Act, largely because it would increase their royalty obligations to include pre-1972 artists.  In fairness, Sirius is demanding parity among all radio providers, but the point is: there’s a fight here.

And the Music Modernization Act is being met with howls of protest, specifically for erasing billions in unpaid mechanical licensing liabilities for streaming giants like Spotify and Apple Music.  

Those oppositions notwithstanding, both the CLASSICS and Music Modernization Acts are widely expected to pass into law. 

Here’s the House version of AMP (HR 881), which was first introduced in 2017.

You can download the full bill from here, or check it out below.

 

 


Written while listening to Rita Ora and Lil Xan.

2 Responses

  1. dhenn

    There had better be a work for hire clause in there because if I’ve already paid someone upfront to produce something and I’m taking all the risk of future sales and plays I should not have to royalties out of my share.

    • wurdo

      It codifies the current voluntary practice of SoundExchange to obey artists’ Letters of Direction and thus directly pay producers their percentage of royalties without passing through the artists’ hands.. If you don’t have a contract with the producer to pay additional royalties, then you won’t have to pay additional royalties.