Sen. Elizabeth Warren ‘Absolutely Supports’ the Music Modernization Act — But No Senate Vote Yet

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Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren officially added her name to the list of Music Modernization Act supporters on Monday.  But so far, no word on a broader Senate vote.

This is the most substantial piece of music industry legislation in decades — in the world’s largest music market.  Now, the entire Music Modernization Act could come down to a single ‘hotline’ vote in the Senate this week.

Last night, we broke the news that a special hotline voting effort was afoot in the U.S. Senate.  Prior to that, we’d never heard of this procedural trick.  But the special fast-track mechanism, typically reserved for non-controversial, simpler bills, allows for a quick Senate passage if all 100 Senators vote ‘yea’.

It’s a clever way to get a bill approved — fast.  One vote against, however, kills the entire fast-track contraption, pushing the measure towards a formal debate process.

So far, no word of a vote.  Just reports of procedural back-and-forth, with possible fast-track passage in the coming days.

But amidst the usual roil of controversy and drama on the Hill, a heavyweight Senator backed the Music Modernization Act.  “I absolutely support the Music Modernization Act,” Warren affirmed on Twitter in response to a heated inquiry on matter.

“I signed on as a cosponsor earlier today.  Thanks for your work to help get this bill to the finish line – and keep making great music!”

That represents a blow for Sirius XM Satellite Radio, which is undoubtedly working the channels to find a defecting Senator.  After all, one dissenting Senator could kill this entire bill, so Sirius’ lobbying machine is running on overdrive.

Speaking of which: Sirius’ protests against the MMA may be coming at a cost.

On Monday, a long list of high-profile musicians and songwriters threatened to boycott Sirius XM if they continued to oppose the Music Modernization Act.  The protesting group included Paul McCartney, Katy Perry and Max Martin, just to name a few big names.

Ironically, McCartney has no problem doing a splashy livestream on YouTube, but is determined to boycott Sirius.

Exactly what a ‘satellite radio boycott’ would look like is unclear, though Sirius rifled back with its own response.  Basically, the satellite giant feels like they’re getting screwed — big time — with traditional radio getting an ever better free ride on performance broadcast royalties.

“Contrary to new reports and letters, this is really not about a SiriusXM victory, but implementing some simple, reasonable and straightforward amendments to the MMA,” the company responded, while questioning the ‘holy war’ against them.  “There is nothing in our ‘asks’ that gut the MMA or kills the Act.”

Make no mistake: Sirius loses a lot of money if this bill passes.  But can Sirius stop a ‘unanimous consent’ in the Senate?

So far, we haven’t heard of a spoiler, but roughly 25 Senators are still in play here.

And according to the Content Creators Coalition (CCC), the list of wildcards includes Oregonian Senator Ron Wyden, who initially made a huge stink over the CLASSICS Act, which is part of the MMA.

We thought Wyden was on board, given that the ‘hotline’ rewrite included a number of CLASSICS modifications.  But it turns out that Wyden merely ‘un-blocked’ the bill with the CLASSICS resolutions.  It doesn’t mean he’s going to vote for it.

“We don’t ask for special treatment or undue assistance,” a letter sent Monday to Wyden from the CCC implored. “All we ask is that you have our back.”

Separately, SoundExchange pointed to more than 20 ‘holdout’ Senators, with Elizabeth Warren initially on the list.  But it’s anyone’s guess if the remaining ‘non-sponsors’ will care enough to stop the MMA ‘hotline’.  Let’s see.

More as this develops.