Now streaming services in the USA will pay musicians more - we are discussing the new law

    In mid-October in the United States was signed a new federal law - Music Modernization Act (MMA). He should settle the issue with the size of royalties paid by streaming platforms to musicians. Songwriters will start to get more money for their work.

    We are talking about the prerequisites for the adoption of the law and the reaction of the community to it.

    Photo Wikimedia / CC

    The problem of low royalties

    The size of royalties paid by streaming services to musicians is small. According to Digital Music News on average, Spotify pays musicians for one listening to their song on the site of $ 0.00397. Apple Music has a “price tag” of $ 0.00783.

    At the same time in the United States there is no single and complete archive with the data of the authors of music and lyrics. When services like Spotify cannot, for whatever reason, identify the owner of the rights to the work, they turn to the Copyright Office to find the musician. But because of the incompleteness of the base, these appeals often remain unanswered. It turns out that the musicians receive less money.

    In general, the problem of low royalties in the community has been rising for a long time.. Therefore, the politicians decided that it was time to change the system of royalties.

    What will change the new law

    The Music Modernization Act will take effect on January 1, 2020. Representatives of the music industry say they have been waiting for the adoption of this law for 15 years.

    To protect the interests of musicians in the United States will create a new regulatory authority - Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC). The organization will negotiate the amount of royalties with digital services, collect royalties from the platforms and independently distribute these payments among song rights holders.

    In addition, the MLC will create and maintain a single database of musicians, composers and songwriters. Information from the archive will be available free of charge for all comers.

    The law will change the order of payments to producers and sound producers. They will begin to receive royalties not from the label, but directly from the organization dealing with the protection of copyright. According to this scheme it was possible to work before, but now this approach has become mandatory.

    MMA also obliges streaming services to pay royalties for users listening to songs written between 1923 and 1972. Previously, the owners of the rights to these works did not receive money. The case was due to the fact that until 1972 the legal status of audio recordings was not regulated by US federal law .

    Another innovation of MMA is a change in the order of litigation according to the size of licensing fees. Prior to the adoption of the act, each of the organizations for the protection of the rights of musicians always worked with the same federal judge. Now the cases will be considered by different judges at random each time. According to lawyers, it will help evaluate each case impartially and establish a fair amount of payments that will not be based on previous decisions.

    How the community responded

    In general, the music industry has met a new act positively. However, a number of technology companies had claims to certain points of the document. For example, during a discussion of the law, the government disagreed with SiriusXM , which owns satellite and online radio stations.

    For some reason (probably financial), representatives of the organization opposed the introduction of licensing fees for reproduction of records older than 46 years. In these negotiations, lawmakers even had to compromise in order to gain approval from the broadcasting giant. For SiriusXM set the same amount of payments until 2027.

    But music streaming services had no complaints about the Music Modernization Act. In particular, the adoption of the law was supported in Spotify. According to the representative of the company, the act makes the system of license payments more transparent and simple. Spotify will pay a fixed percentage of the revenue of the Mechanical Licensing Collective. If the right holders are not satisfied with the size of the royalties, they will resolve this issue directly with the MLC. Streaming site does not have to spend time resolving individual conflicts.

    In support of the act and expressed many songwriters, as well as producers. For example, the adoption of MMA was endorsed by Peter Asher (Peter Asher) - producer of Diana Ross, Ringo Starr and other artists. According to himThe law makes reasonable changes to protect the rights of musicians.

    Photo by Eva Rinaldi / CC / Neil Diamond gives a concert in Australia

    The American singer Neil Diamond supported the act. For him, the most important was the fact that, finally, the issue with the works that appeared before 1972 was resolved. Diamond says that many great musicians did not receive money for songs that are successful in streaming services, and the law corrects this injustice.

    Nevertheless, some independent performers still expressed concernsthat payments from streaming services will not be fair enough. The fact is that the composition of the Mechanical Licensing Collective will include ten representatives of music labels and only four independent songwriters. This can lead to unequal distribution of royalties in favor of large labels, since indie musicians are in the minority.

    What are the difficulties

    Although MMA should help musicians get a fairer payment for their works, it has yet to work on. According to lawyers, the new law makes the system of license payments even more difficult, and it will be difficult for independent musicians to understand it. Representatives of copyright protection organizations agree with this. President of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers ( ASCAP ) Paul Williams (Paul Williams) supported the act, but said that MMA is only the first step towards a full-fledged regulatory mechanism.

    Much will depend on the action of the Mechanical Licensing Collective. The organization will have to create an exhaustive database of songwriters and think about ways to interact with labels and musicians. These are not easy tasks, and the decisions of the MLC will determine whether the new law will really benefit composers and performers.

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