It's made recent headlines that the US Senate has unanimously approved the Music Modernization Act of 2018 (S.2334) which could be the biggest reform for music licensing in 20 years. The bill is now on it's way to the House, then to the desk of President Trump. With all of the content detection and copyright chaos in this post-internet music industry, a major update to the music licensing process is desperately needed; and While many of the art-related bills favor big companies and are typically terrifying for creators, this one is actually a good move into the right direction.
So what is it exactly?
This bill pretty much updates section 115 of the U.S. Copyright Act, blending 3 key pieces of legislation:
The Music Modernization Act,
which removes many of the kinks from the music licensing process to make it easier for rights holders to get paid when their music is streamed online. It would work by creating a new governing agency which would issue blanket mechanical licenses to digital services, collect, and distribute royalties to rights holders. This would prevent rights holders like major labels from entering into agreements with digital services. Currently, digital music services like Spotify and Apple Music are responsible for identifying the rights holders to each individual song in their catalogs - a job that would switch to the new entity created by this bill. Digital services will have to handle the costs for this new entity as well. Mechanical royalties would be paid to songwriters whenever a physical or digital copy of their song is made, and it would be based on what a buyer and seller negotiate in an open market vs the current standard rates. The rate court system would be overhauled. Currently ASCAP (American SOciety of Composers, Authors, and Publishers) and BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.) are assigned a single judge who handles all of their rate court cases. Going forward, the bill proposes that a district judge in New York's Southern District would be randomly assigned to each case. The bill would repeal Section 114(i) of the U.S Copyright Act which prevents rate courts from considering sound recording royalty rates when setting performance royalty rates. The biggest change would be this new agency which could possibly solve the biggest issue for songwriters: getting paid accurately and on time. Part of the bill states that the agency would create a public database containing song ownership information to help songwriters identify which songs haven't been properly attributed to them.
The CLASSICS Act (Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, & Important Contributions to Society Act) for recordings dating before 1972.
The AMP Act (Allocation for Music Producers Act), which improves royalty payouts for engineers and producers from SoundExchange when their recordings are used on satellite and online radio. This is the first time producers have ever been recognized in copyright law and isn't really controversial because it doesn't create a new right as producers and engineers will continue to collect royalties they were previously due. But it will establish a legal procedure for them to collect their funds directly from SoundExchange instead of the artist or label. Artists can already pay their producers and engineers royalties directly by accepting "Letters of Direction," but the AMP act would formalize this process.
Although the Music Modernization Act was majorly supported my artists, songwriters, and practically every corner of the music industry, it me a bit of opposition this summer. Sirius XM and Music Choice are cashing out on lobbying firms in an attempt to fight this act as they aren't happy with the CLASSICS Act portion of this bill. XM's CEO, Jim Meyer, criticized the bill for expanding the royalty requirements for satellite radio without also expanding the requirements for terrestrial radio. (The CLASSICS act will not change anything to require traditional radio stations to pay for the broadcast of any recordings in the U.S. post- or pew-1972.)
If all goes well this could be a major improvement to the music industry's royalty distribution system, making it less of a headache to receive credit and payment. We'll be keeping an eye on the progress of this bill and bringing you updates.
Reality Tell Your Vision is a project by Leo Ayrault, a Journalist from Detroit MI.
Check out this exerpt from his story found on his website.
"My name is Leo Ayrault and I am a Japanese-American college student at Wayne State University. I am studying my passion in Broadcast & Journalism, and am currently interning for the Detroit Lions.
My college career started similar to a lot of people. I did not know what I wanted to do with my life and was miserable going to school. I hated the concept of spending thousands of dollars for classes that were teaching me things I don't see myself enjoy doing. The lack of inspiration got so bad, I was warned by my school for academic probation.
Around this time, my Grandfather who I loved dearly, was notified with cancer. I was going back and forth to the hospital, my job, and school. Even someone who I deemed so strong did not win his battle against cancer. I witnessed this mans' very last heartbeat with my own eyes. It gave me the epiphany that, "life is too short, never take it for granted, and do what you enjoy."
At his funeral, I had another epiphany. There were so many people in all ages and ethnicities who showed up to celebrate my grandpa's life. So many came up to me and said, "Leo, your grandfather was a great man," "He made a positive impact on my life." From that day on, it became my biggest life goal to positively impact as many people as I can altruistically.
My grandfather had an innate ability to talk to anybody, anywhere and make them feel important and good about themselves. He was genuine as it was. I feel, he has given me that personality trait and it is my destiny to honor his legacy. The best vehicle I could think of was Broadcast & Journalism.
Interviewing people and acknowledging them for who they are and what they bring to the table has always been my passion. Ever since I changed my major in school, I have been a 4.0 student.
My greatest memories I have with my grandfather is watching the Detroit Lions play on Sundays. Soon after deciding to continue my grandfather's legacy and pursue my career in broadcasting, I attained an internship position for the Broadcast department for the NFL (Detroit Lions).
With the knowledge I gained from all of my teachers in life, I am confident to pursue my ultimate goal.
Reality Tell Your Vision is a platform where I can continue my grandpa's legacy. Our goal is to positively impact as many people as we can by bringing on positive people and messages.
We provide a platform to those who deserve recognition, with one digital content at a time.
Creators, we hate being "paid in promotion". We should never accept being paid in promotion... unless there's some serious promotion involved or the end product could add a lot of value to your portfolio. If a huge client, like a Mark Cuban or Elon Musk, needed some new designs and marketing materials then I, as a graphic and web designer, would want to hop on that opportunity. Not only do I know my designs would make it into important hands and be displayed for millions to see, but these works would also increase the value of my portfolio. I sure hope someone with the success of these example clients would offer to pay for their needed services, but if this were the case I wouldn't be working for promotion, I'd be investing my time and abilities for a potentially huge pay off. Sure, they could end up hating my designs and using some from elsewhere, but what investment doesn't come with risks? At least I'd still have the experience that I could use later.
This theoretical situation is an unlikely occurrence, but you're surrounded with more realistic ones. There are businesses starting up every day by people who are focused, that have succeeded in things before and have the potential to succeed in their new venture. A lot of these businesses are funded out of pocket, or with very limited start-up cash and could really use valuable services like web design, graphic design, video production and social media management. If you have the skill and use it to build the proper relationship, this could result in something big for you.
If you're good, you could get all of this in a single conversation. If you go about this the correct way, you will have everything you need to know weather or not you want to buy into this new idea with your precious talents. Worst case scenario, you could end up with a new connection that could potentially open doors for you in the future.
If you decide to invest your talents and abilities, make sure you pay close attention to the flow of everything in and around the business. You need to be able to constantly gauge how much time and stress you need to dedicate. Always give your best effort. If you ever begin to feel that you will need to back out of your investment, do so without breaking the connection that you've established. Communicate with your contact and express your feelings and concerns. Try to give no excuses and don't place the blame on anyone. Own up to your decision and promote the idea of you being available for future opportunities.
So now that you have an idea about how you could invest your talents and abilities, you should work
on sharpening your networking skills. Here are a few helpful resources:
7 TIPS FOR NETWORKING
The List: Vol 2
by Various Artists