“This is the strongest I’ve ever seen the songwriting community” — Ross Golan, hit songwriter, podcaster of ‘And The Writer Is…’
The Music Modernization Act recently passed the House by a 415-0 vote. It looked as if it was on its way to an easy victory in the Senate to FINALLY update archaic laws that were written over 100 years ago that govern how artists and songwriters get paid today. The bill is far from perfect, but it’s a solid step in the right direction. It’s the first piece of legislation that has been agreed upon by all the major DSPs (Spotify, Amazon, Google, Apple) publishers, labels, artists and songwriters.
Only one major problem. An amendment was slipped in, last minute, by the Performing Rights Organization SESAC that threatens to derail the entire bill. SESAC, which supposedly represents songwriters and publishers is owned by Blackstone, a financial investment firm. Blackstone also owns Harry Fox Agency (HFA).
Currently, HFA handles mechanical royalty accounting and payments for many DSPs and publishers.
The Music Modernization Act would essentially make HFA obsolete. So, Blackstone is puppeting SESAC to propose an amendment that would NOT help the songwriters and publishers they claim to represent, but rather HFA who their overlords control.
Ross Golan, songwriter of many hit songs recorded by artists such as Maroon 5, Selena Gomez, Keith Urban, Meghan Trainor, Justin Bieber and Andy Grammer, and host of the wildly popular podcast And the Writer Is… rallied the troops.
Ross has been tweeting and instagramming non-stop the past few days to get SESAC to withdraw their amendment. And his songwriting friends have stepped up. En masse.
There has been a barrage of tweets and Instagram posts from some of the biggest stars in music, with the graphic: “I Am a Songwriter. I Support the Music Modernization Act AS IS. Don’t be complacent. Take Action. Tell @SESAC and @Blackstone to withdraw their amendment to the MMA.”
Everyone from Steven Tyler to Maren Morris have voiced their support for the Music Modernization Act AS IS and have had some choice words for SESAC
SESAC has attempted to save face by posting a full statement on their website and Instagram.
But songwriters saw through their BS and mobilized. They went to town on SESAC’s Instagram post.
Maren Morris commented: “Enough. You guys attempting to undercut your own writers’ intelligence by posting these responses is ridiculous. Do the decent thing at least or risk becoming obsolete.”
Little Big Town commented: “Do the right thing @sesac this is shameful.”
Parachute wrote: “Sounds likes it’s time you sit down with @blackstone and explain to them how screwed you’ll be as a company if this amendment stands.”
Rachel Platten stopped by the SESAC page this afternoon with: “I came here to be unbiased and try to see it from your side. But I am also not convinced… songwriters are very intelligent, are you forgetting who you represent? We can easily see through these responses and we understand your real reasons. Please withdraw your amendment to the MMA.”
Others were more forceful in their rebuke.
Steven Tyler tweeted: “HEY SESAC – GET OFF OUR BOAT! WE ARE ALL SEASICK!!! #sesackillstheMMA”
— Steven Tyler (@IamStevenT) July 27, 2018
Jason Isable tweeted: “Hey @sesac the interests of your parent company are destroying any goodwill you have with songwriters. Quit being part of the problem.”
Hey @sesac the interests of your parent company are destroying any goodwill you have with songwriters. Quit being part of the problem.
— Jason Isbell (@JasonIsbell) July 28, 2018
Margo Price tweeted: Something must be done to save the #MusicModernizationAct and protect the rights of songwriters. The greed of the @harryfoxagency & @blackstone will be the demise of the American Songwriter. Shame on you @sesac for not supporting your own.”
Something must be done to save the #MusicModernizationAct and protect the rights of songwriters. The greed of the @harryfoxagency & @blackstone will be the demise of the American Songwriter. Shame on you @sesac for not supporting your own. #SESACkillstheMMA pic.twitter.com/jV0QjjlqX3
— Margo Price (@MissMargoPrice) July 30, 2018
I spoke with Ross today as he was boarding a plane to NYC.
I pressed him on some of SESAC’s points about allowing “competition” in the collection process and how I was concerned that the Mechanical Licensing Collective (the proposed organization that will take over accounting, collection and payouts for all mechanical royalties from Harry Fox Agency and Music Reports) is going to be setup by a government organization which, if history proves, could be quite flawed.
SoundExchange, the sound recording performing rights organization setup by the government to collect royalties from non-interactive streams from services like SiriusXM radio, has been far from perfect and the accounting and reporting has been slow at best and criminally incompetent at worst.
Ross was unclear about the exact implementation at this stage of the process and directed me to Dina LaPolt, the attorney who has been overseeing the bill, but he did declare:
“We start somewhere and we educate people and we move forward. This is hopefully the first step of many. But this is a massive step…What I am excited about is the idea that songwriters can gain a little bit of strength back.”
What is clear, is that, for the first time in history, songwriters are speaking with one collective voice: Pass the Music Modernization Act. As. Is.
Currently there are 43 Senators who have co-signed the bill (we need 51). If your Senator is listed below, this means they have not yet co-signed it. If you are one of their constituents and would like to ask them to support the bi-partisan bill “as is,” contact them TODAY:
John Barrasso: @SenJohnBarrasso
Richard Burr: @senatorburr
Susan Collins: @SenatorCollins
Tom Cotton: Twitter: @TomCottonAR – Instagram: @tomcottonar
Mike Enzi: @senatorenzi
Deb Fischer: @senatorfischer
John Hoeven: @SenJohnHoeven
Ron Johnson: Twitter: @SenRonJohnson – Instagram: @ronjohnsonwi
John McCain: @senjohnmccain
Jerry Moran: Twitter @JerryMoran
Jim Risch: Twitter: SenatorRisch
Mike Rounds: Twitter: @SenatorRounds
Richard Shelby: Twitter: @SenShelby – Instagram: @shelbyforsenate
Daniel Sullivan: Twitter: @SenDanSullivan – Instagram: @sen_dansulliva
Tammy Baldwin – @senatorbaldwin
Maria Cantwell – Twitter: @SenatorCantwell – Instagram: @senatormariacantwell
Ben Cardin – @senatorcardin
Tom Carper – @senatorcarper
Bob Casey – Twitter: @Bob_Casey – Instagram: @senbobcasey
Joe Donnelly – Twitter: @SenDonnelly – Instagram: @donnellyforindiana
Tammy Duckworth – @senduckworth
Kristen Gillibrand – Twitter: @SenGillibrand – Instagram: @kirstengillibrand
Angus King (Ind but caucuses with D’s) – Twitter: @SenAngusKing – Instagram: @anguskingmaine
Ed Markey – Twitter: @SenMarkey – Instagram: @edmarkey
Robert Menendez – Twitter: @SenatorMenendez
Jeff Merkley – @senjeffmerkley
Chris Murphy – @chrismurphyct
Gary Peters – Twitter: @SenGaryPeters – Instagram: @peters4michigan
Jack Reed – Twitter: @SenJackReed
Bernie Sanders – Twitter: @SenSanders – Instagram: @berniesanders
Chuck Schumer – Twitter: @SenSchumer – Instagram: @chuckschumer
Jeanne Shaheen – Twitter: @SenatorShaheen – Instagram: @jeanneshaheen
Tina Smith – Twitter: @SenTinaSmith – Instagram: @tinasmithmn
Debbie Stabenow – Twitter: @SenStabenow – Instagram: N/A
Jon Tester – @senatorjontester
Tom Udall – @senatortomudall
Mark Warner – Twitter: @MarkWarner – Instagram: @senatorwarner
Elizabeth Warren – @senwarren
Ron Wyden – @ronwyden