Senate Judiciary Approves the Music Modernization Act — With Significant Changes

The Music Modernization Act (MMA) just got a facelift — or at least some nips-n-tucks.  The Senate Judiciary Committee’s marked-up bill calls for greater transparency for the Mechanical Licensing Committee (MLC) and serious stipulations related to Department of Justice consent decree decisions that impact ASCAP and BMI.  There are also some changes that didn’t happen, and sure to draw continued rebuke.

We’re just sifting through the updated revisions, which are considerable.  But given the changes, the House of Representatives will now have to re-approve the bill with the new modifications.  That is, after the broader Senate approves the measure.

It’s a little rough, but here’s a copy of the Senate’s marked-up MMA.  This is the markup that received a unanimous ‘voice vote’ in the Judiciary this morning.

It’s 169 pages of not-so-light reading, so grab an extra-strong brew and let’s dive in.

Here’s a quick look at the modifications to the House-approved Music Modernization Act.

(1) The Mechanical Licensing Collection, or MLC, will be subject to increased transparency provisions.  That includes sharing more information related to its collections and administration activities, including its financials, song-matching database, and unclaimed royalty distributions.

(2) The CLASSICS Act, a contested bill related to pre-1972 oldies recordings, will remain in the Music Modernization Act bundle.  That could create some problems ahead, with a competing ACCESS to Recordings Act potentially threatening broader MMA passage.

(3) The U.S. Department of Justice will keep Congress apprised of various changes related to current consent decrees that dictate statutory royalty rates to ASCAP and BMI.  If the DOJ ultimately dismisses the consent decrees, then they would be required to notify Congress of the coming change.

Breaking all of these changes down…

(1) The Mechanical Licensing Collection, or MLC, will be subject to increased transparency provisions.

Instead of the previous rat’s nest of mechanical licensing chaos, the MMA establishes the Mechanical Licensing Collection, or MLC, to centrally handle all mechanical licensing.  That means that the billions of streams from Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music Unlimited, YouTube, and others will all flow through the MLC for US-based payment.