Entertainment, On A High Note

Music Modernization Act signed into law

Photo courtesy of NSAI

The Music Modernization Act, one of the most significant pieces of songwriter legislation ever undertaken, has now become law. President Donald Trump signed the act, which will increase the mechanical royalties for songwriters from digital streaming companies, on Thursday, October 11th.

The Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) fought and lobbied extensively for passage of the bill. As a result, songwriters will see an immediate 44% increase in mechanical royalties beginning in January of 2019 from the previous Copyright Royalty Board trial where NSAI and the National Music Publishers Association represented American songwriters and won the largest mechanical royalty increase in history. This will obviously have an enormous impact on the Nashville music industry and songwriters in particular.

“We have worked on elements of this legislation for 15 years,” said Steve Bogard, hit songwriter and President of NSAI. “With the passage of this law, every professional songwriter in America, including myself, who has suffered devastating economic losses in the era of digital music delivery, can now breathe a sigh of relief and be optimistic about the future of our profession. Along with the songs that bear my name,” Bogard added, “this is my proudest career accomplishment.”

Higher streaming royalties resulting from the marketplace rate standards included in the Music Modernization Act will come over time when the next copyright Royalty Board proceeding occurs in four years or when performance rights organizations ASCAP and BMI have rate court proceedings under the terms of the act. Agreements reached with streaming companies or court proceedings could result in higher streaming rates.

“It is not too bold to say this is the most important songwriter legislation ever adopted by Congress,” Bogard said. “When we negotiate our digital rates or go to trial-type proceedings, we expect rates that are much fairer based on what the market should pay.”

Among other things, the act changes the standard by which songwriter streaming rates are established, replacing an outdated 1909 law that governs songwriter mechanical or sales royalties. It also creates a new Music Licensing Collective governed by songwriters and music publishers to oversee and administer digital mechanical licensing and payments, resolve disputes and administer unclaimed royalties.