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Updated Music Modernization Act Introduced to Congress

An all-new Music Modernization Act (MMA) was unveiled in US Congress on April 10, 2018, featuring most - though not all - of the music-related legislative proposals circulating around Washington recently.  

Most significant among the MMA's provisions is a blanket mechanical license.  Streaming services, like Spotify, need to exploit both the performing right and the mechanical right elements of songs.  In most countries, there is a collecting society or collecting societies that can provide blanket licences covering both elements.  Those blanket licences are hugely valuable to streaming services, because they don't know who controls the rights in any one song, many of which have multiple owners.  

However, in the US, while blanket licences can be secured for performing rights via the collective licensing system, no such licence exists for mechanical rights.  US copyright law obliges rights owners to provide a mechanical rights licence at a set rate, but the service still needs to work out who to pay that set rate to.  Most services have been struggling with that task, leaving songwriters unpaid, and digital services sued over those missed payments.  The MMA will introduce both a collecting society and a blanket licence for mechanical rights in the US for the first time.  

Another provision of the MMA, which will be beneficial for music publishers and songwriters, reforms the way rates are set whenever song rights are licensed via a compulsory or collecting society license to better reflect market realities. 

The all-new MMA also incorporates elements of three other bits of music legislation that have been presented in Congress, including portions of the CLASSICS Act, which seeks to ensure recordings released before 1972 are paid royalties by online and satellite radio services. 

The other elements of the new MMA include provisions to benefit record producers and sound engineers, originally contained in the AMP Act, and a few lines applying the tweaks to how compulsory licence royalty rates are set to sound recordings as well as songs, something originally contained in the Fair Play Fair Pay Act.

What's missing - the core element of the aforementioned Fair Play Fair Pay Act - forcing AM/FM radio stations in the US to pay royalties to artists and labels, like radio stations do in much of the rest of the world - is not part of the all-new MMA.  Also, safe harbour reform isn't part of the overhaul.

For more information on the MMA, click here.











Warner Music Enters Into Licensing Deal With Facebook

Warner Music has announced a partnership with Facebook, which covers both the mini-major's labels and Warner/Chappell publishing catalogues that are licensed via direct deals rather than society-negotiated arrangements. "The deal paves the way for fans to create, upload and share videos with licensed music from their favorite artists and songwriters", says Warner, and not just on Facebook, as the deal covers Messenger, Instagram and Oculus VR.

Sony to Purchase Entirety of EMI Music Publishing

Sony Corp may buy out its partners in the entire EMI Music Publishing catalogue. The deal is potentially valued at $4 billion, capitalizing in part on the renewed interest in owning music rights partly fuelled by the streaming boom. If Sony did take complete ownership of EMI Music Publishing, having already bought out the Jackson estate from its Sony/ATV venture, it would make the entertainment conglom the undisputed major player in song copyrights. More details here:

Create And Sign Music Legal Forms From Your Phone

Create and sign music legal forms from using your phone.  Once you've ordered a music contract form from, you will receive an email with a link to the contract form.  With a subscription to Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, which costs $14.99/mo., you can open the form, view it, edit it, sign it, and send it to others to view, edit and sign, all from your phone.  Super easy.  Get it writing!

Get it in writing.

Musicians tend to want to keep things low-key and informal. It's understandable.  Having a conversation about business terms when you're in the midst of a writing or recording a song may tend to put a damper on the creative vibe.  You may have known the person you're writing or recording with for years and probably think that because of your relationship with that person, the two of you will always be able to come to an agreement later, if something good happens with a song.  However, once a song is created, released and starts to gain momentum, people's attitudes can quickly change.  The deal you thought you had with that person regarding the song may not turn out to be the deal that person is now demanding.  If you want to protect your music and your relationships with those who work on your music, discuss the deal before things get to far down the road and put the terms in writing.  That way, no one can argue about what you all have agreed to, which protects your music and your friendships.