Some music industry executives believe that my position on many issues affecting music creators is too bullish. They dismiss my analyses as sensationalism. They believe, or are at least silent on the notion, that demanding the fair and equitable treatment of middle-class songwriters and recording artists should come with exceptions that disproportionately benefit corporations: major publishers and digital service providers.
But I am a copyright purist.
I believe that the authors of copyrighted musical works — songwriters — should have more say in the way in which their creations are valued and monetized in the marketplace. I do not believe in trickle-down economics or its promise that what’s best for the few at the top will benefit the majority at the bottom.
Greed disproves this all of the time.
Greed is asking songwriters to forgo the potential financial upside of bringing forward legitimate claims of past copyright infringement while simultaneously telling the songwriter community that monies that may become due to them could be redirected, by market share, to the few at the top who negotiated the preemptive dismissal of claims in the first place. Greed is telling artists to campaign for a piece of legislation that will reduce the number of entrants into the on-demand streaming market while simultaneously controlling/dominating the editorial opportunities of the DSP incumbents, greatly reducing opportunities that would otherwise be made available to emerging artists by startups that wish to partner with and elevate emerging artists.
I do believe that the Music Modernization Act will pass. I just hope that the decision-makers give some real thought to the millions of up-and-coming music creators who are not represented by the individuals who wrote the legislation that’ll change the way their copyrights will be exploited in the U.S.
Read the article here:https://www.digitalmusicnews.com/2018/05/07/music-modernization-act-mma-legal-theft/
“‘The MMA gives a digital service like Spotify or Amazon a more convenient way of licensing songs,’ Dae Bogan, founder of music management platform TuneRegistry and a longtime music rights advocate and executive, explains. ‘And it opens a potential windfall of income to legacy artists who were left out of the digital boom.’ But Bogan adds that the legislation doesn’t come close to fixing all, or even most, of the problems in music royalties for labels, publishers and musicians; the simplified processes just make it more likely they’ll get the money they’re due.” via RollingStone
In light of the CRB’s ruling today to increase mechancial royalty rates for on-demand DSPs, I would caution against passing the Music Modernization Act without first amending it to include some very necessary guarantees for DIY musicians.
Given the recent ruling to increase mechanical rates, penalize DSPs for late payments, and remove the TCC cap DSPs will be more incentivized to cling to the safe harbor components of the MMA to limit their financial responsibility to songwriters.
I also fear that the blanket license (combined with the elimination of the statutory damages provision against infringement) would hurt more DIY musicians than protect compared to the existing compulsory licensing schema where today an independent can fully self-administer his/her mechancial rights via a service like TuneRegistry or with a third-party administrator like Songtrust. Why? Because the unclaimed/unpaid (aka “black box”) royalty fund will also increase by 44%, giving major publishers a bigger windfall of market share distributed gains from a royalty pool that generally belongs to unidentified independent songwriters.
What incentive does DSPs, who must pay the rates anyway, and major publishers, who will undoubtedly control the mechanical licensing collective body, have to ensure the works of DIY musicians are properly represented and accounted to and what power do DIY musicians have to assert their limited rights?
I could be completely and utterly wrong.
However, the devil is in the details and the MMA, while it does streamline the process of mechancial licensing in the United States for DSPs it also effectively limits the warranties and representations of DIY musicians.
Every article written about MMA is generally written from the perspective of publishers and NMPA members. As an advocate for and service provider to DIY musicians, my perspective is a bit different and more nuanced.
The decision today by the CRB was a win for all songwriters. The MMA is a win for major publishers. It must be amended.