President Trump signs landmark Music Modernization Act to simplify licensing


In the United States, the Music Modernization Act (MMA) was signed into law by President Donald Trump. In attendance at the White House ceremony was ASCAP, represented by President Paul Williams, and BMI, among others.

The MMA was passed by the House of Representatives with a unanimous 415-0 vote in early 2018. An amended bill was passed in September by the Senate, becoming the Orrin Hatch Music Modernization Act. The MMA represents an excellent example of cooperation among all sectors, including digital platforms, to simplify and facilitate licensing in the digital market.

The MMA includes key provisions:

  • Music Licensing Collective: The new MMA aims to streamline mechanical licensing, ending notice of intent for digital musical composition mechanical licensing. It creates the non-profit “Music Licensing Collective”, responsible for collecting and disbursing compulsory mechanical royalties from music publishing to correct owners from digital streaming services. 
  • Rate-setting: It changes rate-setting considerations for the Copyright Royalty Board, requiring them to consider the willing buyer/seller standard and rates for sound recordings when setting royalty rates.
  • Consent decrees: It changes judicial oversight mechanisms, creating a rotating judge system.
  • Pre-1972 sound recordings: The “pre-1972” loophole is closed, allowing the right to receive income when works are streamed online.
  • Amp Act: It allows recording artists to direct SoundExchange to directly pay producers a piece of their recording royalties.

In response to the signing of the Music Modernization Act, CISAC members ASCAP and BMI issued the following statements:

The Music Modernization Act Is Now Law: ASCAP Statements on Presidential Approval

NEW YORK, Oct. 11, 2018— President Donald J. Trump today signed into law the Music Modernization Act, a comprehensive bill that aims to reform our outdated music licensing system and give music creators an opportunity to obtain compensation that more accurately reflects the value of music.

Below are statements from ASCAP Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Matthews and from songwriter, ASCAP Chairman of the Board and President Paul Williams:

“Thanks to the unrelenting efforts of our ASCAP music creator and publisher members, industry partners and champions in Congress, a more sustainable future for songwriters is finally within reach. The MMA's unanimous passage in the House and Senate proves that the power of music is a great unifier. ASCAP is gratified to have stood alongside creators, music publishers, and many more to make this dream a reality.” – Elizabeth Matthews, ASCAP Chief Executive Officer

“A young songwriter once wrote, ‘You give a little love and it all comes back to you; You’re gonna be remembered for the things that you say and do.’ Decades later, this could not be more true. Songwriters across this country now and in the future will remember those who fought so hard for the Music Modernization Act—both in Congress and across the music industry. On behalf of the music community, we are so thankful for the love and will return the favor with music for generations to come.” – Paul Williams, songwriter, ASCAP Chairman of the Board and President

BMI Responds to the Music Modernization Act Signed Into Law

Today, the Orrin G. Hatch-Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act was signed into law by President Trump. Below is a statement from BMI’s President and CEO Mike O’Neill on this momentous outcome.  

“This is truly a historic moment for the music industry, especially for the American songwriters and composers at its core, who will see significant and deserved benefit from this legislation. Passage of the Orrin G. Hatch-Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act was a hard-fought process that hinged on tremendous collaboration and unprecedented support among diverse stakeholders who ultimately united to safeguard the future of music. We are gratified by this extraordinary outcome that recognizes the essential contributions of creators and streamlines the use of their music across businesses. While BMI will keep advocating to protect the livelihood of music creators in the digital age, we thank Congress and the President for taking this important step in implementing the most meaningful music licensing reform in decades."