The Music Modernization Act Is In Serious Trouble — And I’m Not Surprised

And just like that, the Music Modernization Act (MMA) has gone from sure-fire winner to a bill in trouble.  So who’s fault is that?

Just a few months ago, the Music Modernization Act (MMA) was unstoppable and dashing towards the finish line.  A 415-0 approval in the House of Representatives was not only unbelievable, it heralded a new era of coordination for the music industry.

Or so it seemed.

Architects of the legislation were popping champagne corks at halftime.  An email from David Israelite, head of the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), read more like a victory speech than an update.

Unfortunately, the House landslide was hiding serious dissension against the MMA, from both inside and outside the industry.  And much of the opposition was not only deserved, but vastly underestimated.

Which might explain why all that opposition is suddenly starting to become a really big problem.

Just last week, public performance rights organization SESAC raised serious concerns about the MMA, threatening to derail the bill.

More accurately, SESAC’s owner, Blackstone Group, questioned why the Music Modernization Act called for a government-commissioned mechanical licensing body, when mechanical licensing organizations already exist.

Not coincidentally, one of those existing organizations is the Harry Fox Agency (HFA), which is owned by Blackstone.  Accordingly, Blackstone feels that the HFA and others can already do the job of the ‘Mechanical Licensing Collective,’ or MLC, which would be created by the government under the MMA.

Blackstone says the MMA would kill at least 100 jobs at HFA.  Which doesn’t sound like a big deal, unless it’s your job we’re talking about.

But other mechanical licensing organizations may also take serious hits, including Music Reports.  And the reason for that could lie in a crony deal cooked up by the NMPA and its major publishing constituents.

Since the MMA was drafted, critics have assailed the NMPA for creating legislation that benefits the biggest companies and executives, but few others.

The NMPA lost control of mechanical licensing years ago, and they’ve been blamed for creating Spotify’s mechanical fiasco in the first place.  Once upon a time, NMPA owned HFA, which famously botched millions in mechanical rights licensing payouts.

Strangely, the NMPA helped structure Spotify’s deal with HFA, even though it promulgated the crisis a few years later.  They’re the arsonist and the fireman — and making lots of money from the blaze.

Ultimately, the NMPA dumped the toxic HFA into the hands of SESAC and Blackstone, which is now trying to protect its investment.

Corruption’s a strong word.  But lots of aspects of the MMA — and its MLC creation — wreak of inside dealmaking.

For example, the MMA stipulates that all unclaimed monies collected by the MLC will be frozen after three years.  Then, that money will be redistributed to the largest music publishers, like Universal Music Publishing Group and Warner/Chappell.

The unclaimed royalties will be divided by marketshare, even though none of those publishers actually have any legitimate claim to the works in question.  The embarrassingly slim timeframe was even picked up by California Senator Dianne Feinstein*, yet nothing was changed in the bill.

*Updated 7.31: I originally attributed this concern incorrectly to Nancy Pelosi.

Of course, less sophisticated authors, who are unlikely to even understand what a ‘mechanical license’ is, will lose that money forever.  And so will companies like Spotify, which had to pay the money to begin with, only to see it go to the wrong person.

Is that fair?

But this gets worse.  According to numerous sources to Digital Music News, major publishers are already setting in motion a ‘no bid contract’ for SoundExchange to manage the MLC, with SoundExchange’s acquisition of CMRRA likely acquired for this very purpose.

Which might explain why SESAC/Blackstone is so agitated.   Blackstone bought HFA to get a piece of the mechanical licensing administration market, and fix a broken operation.  But what good is that if the game is already rigged?

Already, this is starting to emanate a foul odor.  SoundExchange has processed billions worth of non-interactive streaming royalties in the U.S.  But they’ve also amassed hundreds of millions in unmatched royalties, while alienating critical partners like Pandora.

One reason why Pandora pulled out of SoundExchange is because a huge percentage of the money wasn’t getting matched.  It was sitting in a bank account, while Pandora’s financials were getting beaten up by Wall Street.  The obvious solution was to cut out the bloated middleman whenever possible.

Sadly, many SoundExchange-registered artists were recently blindsided by those direct deals.  Labels were getting the money, but who knows what happened to it after that.  Amidst the precipitous drops, SoundExchange’s Michael Huppe refused to address plummeting royalty payments to artists, which only made things worse.

Perhaps the cherry on top is that Huppe makes an annual salary of more than $1 million, according to federal filings.  Which probably needs little additional commentary.

Meanwhile, groups like the Nashville Songwriters Association International are rallying against SESAC and Blackstone.  But maybe SESAC has a point.

After all, the MMA should be about paying songwriters and publishers their proper mechanical rights royalties — not about designating a government-created organization to control those payments.

Unfortunately, it looks like this bill is focused so heavily on benefiting the top 1% through the MLC, while letting everyone else eat cake.   The House didn’t see that because they don’t understand the music industry; they only read positive reports and press releases.

Now, the memo is finally circulating.

But the MMA is also trying to cram bad copyright down America’s throat.

We’ve written a lot about oldies recording copyrights, and how pre-1972 artists are finding themselves screwed by U.S. Copyright Law.  Well, one way to un-screw those artists is to make all recording copyrights the same.  Same terms, and same term lengths, with one federal jurisdiction instead of 50 different State rules.

Unfortunately, the MMA has attempted to expand oldies copyrights with a Disney-style campaign.  So instead of simply granting federal copyrights to older works, the MMA is attempting to extend their terms while keeping arcane state-based laws.

That’s great for whoever owns the Beatles catalog.  But it pretty much sucks for anyone else.  And older artists rarely get paid, anyway.

Accordingly, Google and tech interests have understandably fought back.

Soon after the House vote, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden introduced a measure that would align oldies with all other recording copyrights.  The Accessibility for Curators, Creators, Educators, Scholars, and Society (ACCESS) to Recordings Act offered a direct challenge to the CLASSICS Act, which is part of the broader MMA mega-bill.

Frankly, ACCESS isn’t a radical counter-proposal.  Read the bill, and you’ll find some pretty reasonable counter-demands.  But instead of compromising or realigning the Music Modernization Act towards something more logical, the industry seems intent on cramming this bill through the Senate.

Except that approach doesn’t seem to be working anymore.  Instead, serious protests are coming from parties that aren’t interested in a bill that disproportionately benefits a small group.

Maybe they should be listened to.

 


 

 

 

21 Responses

  1. Avatar
    Jody Dunitz

    Great piece. It’s just baffling why songwriters (and other creators) are so easily snowed by the NMPA /Major Publisher agenda.

  2. Avatar
    Remi Swierczek

    Music industry and musicians need just NEW FAIR USE ACT.
    It will make music a merchandise again. It will convert Google, Shazam/Apple, Soundhound and 10 more relevant music and lyric ID services from PIMPS of music to cash registers of new music industry.
    Next day 200,000 Radio and TV stations and at list 5,000,000 busy public places and 7 streamers on Ek’s DOPE can be converted to simple music stores.

    Spotifiy alone admitted that it provided 10 billion new tune discoveries in one month. Every month a.m. PIMPS and radio/streaming displays provide at least 100 billion of un-monetized tune discoveries to freeloaders.
    Let’s play the best music for particular person or place, sub and ad free, and charge for additions to personal playlists. We will have $300B music industry by 2030!

  3. Avatar
    Joni Charles

    “Corruption” and “inside dealmaking” ARE strong words. Replace them with compromise and consensus “across a huge ecosystem of record labels, publishers, licensing agents, royalty collectors, broadcasters, streaming services, left wing politicians, right wing politicians, dear friends, sworn enemies and yes- songwriters” and you have a more accurate picture of what has gone into drafting the MMA, as currently proposed. Blackstone had plenty of time to make its concerns known but chose to wait until the 11th hour to disclose them. You can omit that fact but you can’t change it. Blackstone negotiated in bad faith and knew exactly what they were doing. In his past role as president of the board for the Nashville Songwriter’s Association International (NSAI), Lee Thomas Miller had a front row seat to these negotiations. Readers should hear his perspective in order to draw their own conclusions on the issue. Here is what he recently posted on Facebook about the issue.

    Lee Thomas Miller

    To music lovers everywhere,
    I am a professional songwriter. I am not a lobbyist and I am certainly not a politician. The federal government has been regulating what I do for over 100 years. They have decided that my music is virtually worthless in the digital age of streaming. In the last 10 years I have seen most of my peers leave the profession and the new generations of writers are walking into a bleak future.
    I can not speak for the hired suits or the lawyers who are frantically posting bullet points about the Music Modernization Act but I can tell you what I know. I have had the honor of being at the table, on the bloody front lines of this war for the last 5 years. I have testified before both houses of congress, pleaded with White House officials and cabinet members from multiple administrations. I have sang for, wined, dined and advised countless members of congress, lawyers, professors, consultants, lobbyists, advisors and interns who are willing to listen. I have had my ass chewed by the Assistant Attorney General of the United States for pointing out that she had made a complicated topic even more confusing.
    My royalty statements reflect a rapidly declining business which directly puts my family at risk and I’m one of the fortunate ones who actually has songs recorded and on the charts. I know the reality of the future.
    I have watched the slow, painful compromises that have been put into this bill. No one is completely happy with it because EVERYONE has had to give in to reach a consensus- from creators to digital services to money collectors. BUT they were all present while it was being crafted. Congress asked us for consensus and our bill was on it’s way to law.
    Meanwhile, Blackstone is a massive company with heavy influence in Washington. That’s not ok but that’s a different argument. They own SESAC who collects performance royalties and HARRY FOX AGENCY which collects mechanical royalties. They did not try to negotiate their wishes. They sat on the sideline and waited until the last minute to hijack the legislation with unrealistic demands that only benefit them.
    We have a bill. I helped get us here. It is not perfect but it is the one and only chance creators have at saving ourselves. If you hear nothing else that is being said hear this: the bill is already fragile because it is a painstakingly, complicated, give and take across a huge ecosystem of record labels, publishers, licensing agents, royalty collectors, broadcasters, streaming services, left wing politicians, right wing politicians, dear friends, sworn enemies and yes- songwriters.
    Please take some time and write a note to @blackstone and @sesac and blow this up on your social media because songs do not write themselves. My friends and I write them for you.

    • Avatar
      Fuck congress

      Stfu this guy is a moron. Then tell sony and lukasz gottwald to pay the largest songwriter of our time JONNA JOHNSON her publishing and writers royalties he stole. You right songs do not write themselves and not by some old jew fuck.

  4. Avatar
    Paul Resnikoff

    Joni, I greatly appreciate the comment. In response, I’d say that I’m not sure why Blackstone timed their protest in this manner. Perhaps it’s a cynical inside Washington trick (as has been suggested), or, maybe Blackstone suddenly realized that they (meaning HFA) had zero chance of winning a rigged bidding process, as has also been suggested many times by our sources.

    After all, if HFA had a serious chance of either winning the MLC bid, or simply running the mechanical collections process as outlined in the MMA, then Blackstone would stand to gain tremendously. Instead, they’re looking at an investment going to zero, not to mention firing a lot of people.

    I’m also curious as to why the NMPA isn’t trying to actively fix the issues that have appeared. I mentioned two very serious challenges that have emerged, but there are many others.

    For example, why should unclaimed mechanical copyrights go to major publishers — who do not own those rights — after a mere 3 years? Why not commit that money to the stated goal of this legislation, which is paying songwriters and fixing a broken royalty issue associated with streaming services?

    What about deploying the money to further develop matching technologies? Paradise in Germany is working on technology to shave down unmatched metadata by 50%. They’re not the only one. Why aren’t these efforts being encouraged and further financed?

    Maybe the answer is obvious.

    • Avatar
      Anonymous

      I like where your head’s at, man. If the publishers managing the MLC are unable to benefit from unmatched royalties when the MLC fails to match them after three years, one would think that would create enough incentive to do a better job at matching them. Publishers want to maximize their revenue. If they don’t get their share of the black box after three years, watch how fast this problem actually gets fixed. And that will benefit all songwriters, not just the top few.

      If MMA fails, they’ll try again next year. If there’s one thing we must do in the next iteration of this bill, it’s removing the 3-year liquidation of unmatched royalties to publishers based on market share. That will create the incentive necessary to properly identify and pay royalties to their rightful owners, which is what this bill is actually supposed to be all about.

    • Avatar
      Anonymous

      Paul,

      “Rigged” is another one of those strong words that is simply untrue. To ensure complete fairness when it comes to vendor choices for the Music Licensing Collective, Blackstone/SESAC/Harry Fox have been offered language that would:
      1) Categorize vendor contracts into five separate areas in order to guarantee more opportunities for vendors;
      2) Stipulate that contracts are to be re-bid every 5 years, and
      3) Require that vendors have certain expertise in order to bid at all

      Instead of giving Harry Fox “zero chance” of winning, the proposed language would give them (and companies like HFA) an advantage in the bidding process. What it won’t do it guarantee HFA the business. Blackstone’s claim that, under the MMA, the value of their investment would go to zero and require firing a lot of people suggests to me that Blackstone suspects that HFA can’t compete with other companies on a level playing field and are looking for Congress to guarantee HFA the business.

      As for your other questions, the answers are in the proposed bill.
      https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/4706/text

      For example, your concern about unclaimed mechanical copyrights going to major publishers who don’t own those rights is unfounded. As you can see in Section J (i) (II) and again in Section J (iv) (I), unclaimed funds will be distributed based on actual activity, i.e., the number of times a writer’s song(s) were streamed during the reporting period covered by the distribution. This was one of the publishers biggest compromises in drafting the legislation. HFA’s proposal has unclaimed funds going through them first instead of the songwriter/publisher-run MLC.

      For the first time, under the MMA, American songwriters will get a fair and legal guarantee of how their unclaimed funds are handled. Distributions will be based solely on activity and will be legally required to be shared with songwriters. Furthermore, if they register their songs with the MLC, songwriters will receive unclaimed funds, at no cost, regardless of whether they have publishing deals or not.

      If Blackstone/SESAC/Harry Fox truly have songwriters best interests in mind, they will withdraw their amendment and support the MMA, as currently drafted.

    • Avatar
      Joni Charles

      Paul,

      “Rigged” is another one of those strong words that is simply untrue. To ensure complete fairness when it comes to vendor choices for the Music Licensing Collective, Blackstone/SESAC/Harry Fox have been offered language that would:
      1) Categorize vendor contracts into five separate areas in order to guarantee more opportunities for vendors;
      2) Stipulate that contracts are to be re-bid every 5 years; and
      3) Require that vendors have certain expertise in order to bid at all

      Instead of giving Harry Fox “zero chance” of winning, the proposed language would give them (and companies like HFA) an advantage in the bidding process. What it won’t do it guarantee HFA the business. Blackstone’s claim that, under the MMA, the value of their investment would go to zero and require firing a lot of people suggests to me that Blackstone suspects that HFA can’t compete with other companies on a level playing field and are looking for Congress to guarantee HFA the business.

      As for your other questions, the answers are in the proposed bill.
      https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/4706/text

      As you can see in Section J (i) (II) and again in Section J (iv) (I), your concern about unclaimed mechanical copyrights going to major publishers who don’t own those rights is unfounded. Under the MMA, unclaimed funds will be distributed based on actual activity, i.e., the number of times a writer’s song(s) were streamed during the reporting period covered by the distribution. This was one of the publishers biggest compromises in drafting the legislation. HFA’s proposal has unclaimed funds going through them first instead of the songwriter/publisher-run MLC.

      For the first time, under the MMA, American songwriters will get a fair and legal guarantee of how their unclaimed funds are handled. Distributions will be based solely on activity and will be legally required to be shared with songwriters. Furthermore, if they register their songs with the MLC, songwriters will receive unclaimed funds, at no cost, regardless of whether they have publishing deals or not.

      If Blackstone/SESAC/Harry Fox truly have songwriters best interests in mind, they will withdraw their amendment and support the MMA, as currently drafted.

      • Avatar
        Paul Resnikoff

        Sorry, you are just wrong about the 3 years holding clause. After 3 years, the funds get distributed to MLC members by marketshare — even though they have no ownership of the works.

        “(H) HOLDING OF ACCRUED ROYALTIES.—

        “(i) HOLDING PERIOD.—The mechanical licensing collective shall hold accrued royalties associated with particular musical works (and shares of works) that remain unmatched for a period of at least 3 years from the date on which the funds were received by the mechanical licensing collective, or at least 3 years from the date on which they were accrued by a digital music provider that subsequently transferred such funds to the mechanical licensing collective pursuant to paragraph (10)(B), whichever period expires sooner.

        “(J) DISTRIBUTION OF UNCLAIMED ACCRUED ROYALTIES.—

        “(i) DISTRIBUTION PROCEDURES.—After the expiration of the prescribed holding period for accrued royalties provided in subparagraph (H)(i), the mechanical licensing collective shall distribute such accrued royalties, along with a proportionate share of accrued interest, to copyright owners identified in its records, subject to the following requirements, and in accordance with the policies and procedures established under clause (ii):

        • Avatar
          Joni Charles

          Yes, after three years the unclaimed funds will be distributed but only after substantial efforts have been made to identify the actual copyright owner.

          If you read further in Section H, you will seen:

          Section H (I) MUSICAL WORKS CLAIMING PROCESS:
          The mechanical licensing collective shall publicize the existence of accrued royalties for unmatched musical works (and shares of such works) within 6 months of receiving a transfer of accrued royalties for such works by publicly listing the works and the procedures by which copyright owners may identify themselves and provide ownership, contact, and other relevant information to the mechanical licensing collective in order to receive payment of accrued royalties.

          AND in Section J (iii) ADVANCE NOTICE OF DISTRIBUTIONS:
          The mechanical licensing collective shall publicize a pending distribution of unclaimed accrued royalties at least 90 days in advance of such distribution.

          Furthermore, those unclaimed funds will NOT be “redistributed to the largest music publishers” and they will NOT “be divided by marketshare”. If the actual copyright owner cannot be identified, the unclaimed funds will be distributed based on actual streaming activity during the reporting period covered by the distribution.

          As you will see in Section J (iv) SONGWRITER PAYMENTS:
          Copyright owners that receive a distribution of unclaimed accrued royalties and accrued interest shall pay or credit a portion to songwriters (or the authorized agents of songwriters) on whose behalf they license or administer musical works for covered activities, in accordance with applicable contractual terms; provided, however, that notwithstanding any agreement to the contrary—
          (I) such payments and credits to songwriters shall be allocated in proportion to reported usage of individual musical works by digital music providers during the reporting periods covered by the distribution from the mechanical licensing collective.

          It’s clear to me that the MMA really does have songwriters best interests in mind. Blackstone/SESAC/HFA do NOT. I urge everyone to read the MMA so you can decide for yourselves.
          https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/4706/text

        • Avatar
          Joni Charles

          Yes, after three years the unclaimed funds will be distributed but only after substantial efforts have been made to identify the actual copyright owner.

          If you read further in Section H, you will see:

          Section (H) (I) MUSICAL WORKS CLAIMING PROCESS:
          The mechanical licensing collective shall publicize the existence of accrued royalties for unmatched musical works (and shares of such works) within 6 months of receiving a transfer of accrued royalties for such works by publicly listing the works and the procedures by which copyright owners may identify themselves and provide ownership, contact, and other relevant information to the mechanical licensing collective in order to receive payment of accrued royalties.

          AND in Section J (iii) ADVANCE NOTICE OF DISTRIBUTIONS:
          The mechanical licensing collective shall publicize a pending distribution of unclaimed accrued royalties at least 90 days in advance of such distribution.

          Furthermore, those unclaimed funds will NOT be to “redistributed to the largest music publishers” and they will NOT “be divided by marketshare”. If the actual copyright owner cannot be identified, the unclaimed funds will be distributed based on actual streaming activity during the reporting period covered by the distribution.

          As you will see in Section J (iv) SONGWRITER PAYMENTS:
          Copyright owners that receive a distribution of unclaimed accrued royalties and accrued interest shall pay or credit a portion to songwriters (or the authorized agents of songwriters) on whose behalf they license or administer musical works for covered activities, in accordance with applicable contractual terms; provided, however, that notwithstanding any agreement to the contrary—
          (I) such payments and credits to songwriters shall be allocated in proportion to reported usage of individual musical works by digital music providers during the reporting periods covered by the distribution from the mechanical licensing collective.

          I urge everyone to read the MMA so you can see for yourselves that it really does have songwriters best interests in mind. Blackstone/SESAC/HFA do NOT.

          https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/4706/text

        • Avatar
          Joni Charles

          Paul,

          Yes, after three years the unclaimed funds will be distributed but only after substantial efforts have been made to identify the actual copyright owner.

          If you read further in Section H, you will see:

          Section (H) (I) MUSICAL WORKS CLAIMING PROCESS:
          The mechanical licensing collective shall publicize the existence of accrued royalties for unmatched musical works (and shares of such works) within 6 months of receiving a transfer of accrued royalties for such works by publicly listing the works and the procedures by which copyright owners may identify themselves and provide ownership, contact, and other relevant information to the mechanical licensing collective in order to receive payment of accrued royalties.

          AND in Section J (iii) ADVANCE NOTICE OF DISTRIBUTIONS:
          The mechanical licensing collective shall publicize a pending distribution of unclaimed accrued royalties at least 90 days in advance of such distribution.

          Furthermore, those unclaimed funds will NOT be to “redistributed to the largest music publishers” and they will NOT “be divided by marketshare”. If the actual copyright owner cannot be identified, the unclaimed funds will be distributed based on actual streaming activity during the reporting period covered by the distribution.

          As you will see in Section J (iv) SONGWRITER PAYMENTS:
          Copyright owners that receive a distribution of unclaimed accrued royalties and accrued interest shall pay or credit a portion to songwriters (or the authorized agents of songwriters) on whose behalf they license or administer musical works for covered activities, in accordance with applicable contractual terms; provided, however, that notwithstanding any agreement to the contrary—
          (I) such payments and credits to songwriters shall be allocated in proportion to reported usage of individual musical works by digital music providers during the reporting periods covered by the distribution from the mechanical licensing collective.

          I urge everyone to read the MMA so you can see for yourselves that it really does have songwriters best interests in mind. Blackstone/SESAC/HFA do NOT.

          https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/4706/text

          • Avatar
            Paul Resnikoff

            Joni, you’re really proving my point. This *is* marketshare, merely calculated by actual streams.

            “If the actual copyright owner cannot be identified, the unclaimed funds will be distributed based on actual streaming activity during the reporting period covered by the distribution.”

            And who do you think will get the most recognized, matched streams over the period?

            Most importantly: those royalties are distributed to parties that do not own those works.

            Hey, I’m just throwing a possible reason why Blackstone might be protesting this. Maybe take a look at how this was constructed, and who it actually benefits. You might also want to examine the ethics of the sale to Blackstone itself by NMPA, a company that is only going to be getting obliterated by the NMPA’s new creation, the MLC.

    • Avatar
      Joni Charles

      Paul,

      “Rigged” is another one of those strong words that is simply untrue. To ensure complete fairness when it comes to vendor choices for the Music Licensing Collective, Blackstone/SESAC/Harry Fox have been offered language that would:
      1) Categorize vendor contracts into five separate areas in order to guarantee more opportunities for vendors;
      2) Stipulate that contracts are to be re-bid every 5 year;, and
      3) Require that vendors have certain expertise in order to bid at all.

      Instead of giving Harry Fox “zero chance” of winning, the proposed language would give them (and companies like HFA) an advantage in the bidding process. What it won’t do it guarantee HFA the business. Blackstone’s claim that, under the MMA, the value of their investment would go to zero and require firing a lot of people suggests to me that Blackstone suspects that HFA can’t compete with other companies on a level playing field and are looking for Congress to guarantee HFA the business.

      As for your other questions, the answers are in the proposed bill. https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/4706/text

      As you can see in Section J (i) (II) and again in Section J (iv) (I), your concern about unclaimed mechanical copyrights going to major publishers who don’t own those rights is unfounded. Under the MMA, unclaimed funds will be distributed based on actual activity, i.e., the number of times a writer’s song(s) were streamed during the reporting period covered by the distribution. This was one of the publishers biggest compromises in drafting the legislation. HFA’s proposal has unclaimed funds going through them first instead of the songwriter/publisher-run MLC.

      For the first time, under the MMA, American songwriters will get a fair and legal guarantee of how their unclaimed funds are handled. Distributions will be based solely on activity and will be legally required to be shared with songwriters. Furthermore, if they register their songs with the MLC, songwriters will receive unclaimed funds, at no cost, regardless of whether they have publishing deals or not.

      If Blackstone/SESAC/Harry Fox truly have songwriters best interests in mind, they will withdraw their amendment and support the MMA, as currently drafted.

    • Avatar
      Jody Dunitz

      Exactly. The MMA does very little to advance the economic health of songwriters.

  5. Avatar
    Anonymous

    Giving money to parties who don’t have rights to songs has always been a part of the music business and the government has allowed it to go on forever ‘and if this bill don’t stop that from happening it is worthless!

    • Avatar
      Anonymous

      This bill won’t stop that from happening. It also creates a government ran entity to administer all the mechanical royalties. Does that not sound like a monopoly? Also, fair competition creates better payments for songwriters. Imagine if we all had one internet service provider with no other options and had to pay an outrageous price. In addition, I find it interesting that the same people that sold HFA to Blackstone are the same people trying to destroy it after profiting from the sale. Was this in their plans all along? Sounds sneaky to me

  6. Avatar
    Joni Charles

    Yes, after three years the unclaimed funds will be distributed but only after substantial efforts have been made to identify the actual copyright owner.

    If you read further in Section H, you will seen:

    Section (H) (I) MUSICAL WORKS CLAIMING PROCESS:
    The mechanical licensing collective shall publicize the existence of accrued royalties for unmatched musical works (and shares of such works) within 6 months of receiving a transfer of accrued royalties for such works by publicly listing the works and the procedures by which copyright owners may identify themselves and provide ownership, contact, and other relevant information to the mechanical licensing collective in order to receive payment of accrued royalties.

    AND in Section J (iii) ADVANCE NOTICE OF DISTRIBUTIONS:
    The mechanical licensing collective shall publicize a pending distribution of unclaimed accrued royalties at least 90 days in advance of such distribution.

    Furthermore, those unclaimed funds will NOT be to “redistributed to the largest music publishers” and they will NOT “be divided by marketshare”. If the actual copyright owner cannot be identified, the unclaimed funds will be distributed based on actual streaming activity during the reporting period covered by the distribution. There is no lump sum paid to “major” publishers.

    As you will see in Section J (iv) SONGWRITER PAYMENTS:
    Copyright owners that receive a distribution of unclaimed accrued royalties and accrued interest shall pay or credit a portion to songwriters (or the authorized agents of songwriters) on whose behalf they license or administer musical works for covered activities, in accordance with applicable contractual terms; provided, however, that notwithstanding any agreement to the contrary—
    (I) such payments and credits to songwriters shall be allocated in proportion to reported usage of individual musical works by digital music providers during the reporting periods covered by the distribution from the mechanical licensing collective.

    I urge everyone to read the MMA so you can see for yourselves that it really does have songwriters best interests in mind. Blackstone/SESAC/HFA do NOT.

    https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/4706/text

  7. Avatar
    AnonyMouse

    Watching all the Nashville hipsters drink the Koolaid is kind of sad. They all sound (and look) like lemmings, with their matching Instagram posts and identically-worded diatribes. Half these dopes don’t even know what they’re protesting or bashing SESAC for, they’re just doing it because all of the other cool kids are too.

    My own personal cynicism aside, though, the MMA lost me at “new government entity.” The last thing ANY of us needs is more government interference in our lives. Only the most liberal amongst us (sadly most of the Nashville and L.A. writers) would think that’s a good idea without batting an eye.

    But the distribution of unclaimed/unmatched revenues to disinterested third parties is criminal. And after only three years? What’s the rush? Make it five years. Or ten. Make this new MLC have a very large lockbox in which those funds sit, protected, and unpledged, for a very long time before you dish them away — and then send them off to music education programs, or to MusicCares or some other far more worthwhile cause than to simply line the pockets of the big three simply based on market share. How is it the deck constantly keeps stacking in their favor? Why not distribute those funds to independently owned labels? Or unsigned artists? Or… or… or…