A lot of you have probably seen posts that say something along the lines of, “I am a (insert music industry professional’s job title here) and I support the Music Modernization Act as is.” Which is great. Professionals in the music industry have now made people aware that there is a change that needs to take place, and that change is being enacted by something called the Music Modernization Act (or MMA for short).

Now the question remains, what is the Music Modernization Act, and what does it do for me?

After some research, I learned that the act is actually a collection of three bills being passed together. Each bill does something to change the music industry. The goal of the act overall is to update streaming, royalty, and legal service policies that affect the music industry so that the demand for music will be accurately reflected in how much money industry professionals are making (at least in it’s most basic form).

The Music Modernization Act:

  1. Updates and grants royalties.
  2. Streamlines legal processes
  3. Gives industry professionals new rights.

The act updates royalties in regards to how much money is paid out to songwriters, producers, mixers, and essentially anyone with credits (credits in the music industry are like points that you get which equal a percentage of royalties you receive from a song for your work). The idea behind this change is that music is in high demand, but the amount paid out to professionals in royalties has not been updated to reflect that, so by updating royalty amount professionals will receive the amount of money that reflects the actual value of their work in today’s market. 

Additionally, the act now gives royalties to music recorded before 1972. This is kind of a big deal. Think about it likes this: The Jackson 5 broke up in 1973, but they were putting out music long before that. All the music they put out before 1972 made them no money (i.e. songs like, “I Want You Back”, “ABC”, and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”). If they heard their song on the radio they received nothing but the satisfaction of knowing they got airtime. Thankfully that is being changed now so that all artists, regardless of when they wrote their music, will receive royalties.

Now the second thing the act does is streamline legal processes. As far as the average person who is not an industry professional is concerned; all this means is that more companies have to communicate. Specifically, this means that streaming services (i.e. Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music) have to work with licensing companies.

Finally, the third big thing the act does is give industry professionals new rights. All this means is that any creator who can demonstrate they own a song in the database will be eligible for copyright protection and payment, regardless of the work’s age. Also, the act new allows sound recording royalties can now be directly paid to studio professionals. This is a small change but a big convenience, and most importantly it represents a step in the right direction. 

The Music Modernization Act isn’t the ultimate fix for all of the music industry’s problems, but it is undeniably a step in the right direction. While yes the act does many more than just those three main things, the rest of the smaller accomplishments are specific to certain industry professions and quite frankly have no meaning to those of us outside of the music industry at the moment.