House of Representatives Unanimously Passes Music Modernization Act

Bill that streamlines how music creators are paid now passes to the Senate, which will hear it on May 15th

All 415 present members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass the Music Modernization Act, which heads to the Senate next month. Credit: Orhan Cam/Shutterstock

On Wednesday, 415 members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted unanimously to pass the Music Modernization Act, a mega bill that aims to radically improve and streamline the system through which music creators are paid.

As passed in the House, the MMA – which has garnered wide support from the music industry – would update a decades-old system of mechanical licensing, set a statutory right to recognition for certain adjunct creators like sound engineers and producers and address the lack of a unified rate standard for music royalties. Robert Goodlatte, a representative who helped introduce the bill in the House Judiciary Committee earlier this year, remarked, per Variety, that “music is no longer written on piano rolls, and our laws shouldn’t be based on that technology either,” and that the bill “brings early 20th-century music laws for the analog era into the 21st-century digital era.”

“This legislation stands to benefit artists, songwriters, labels, publishers, studio producers and others,” SoundExchange CEO Michael Huppe said. “We are grateful that lawmakers in the House worked to update our nation’s copyright laws for the digital age, and we look forward to working with the Senate to get this legislation passed quickly. Music creators have waited long enough.”

Other champions of the MMA include Recording Academy President & CEO Neil Portnow, who called the House passage of the bill “a historic step forward for all music creators, ensuring that they are credited, paid, and shown the respect they deserve for the impact they have on our culture and daily life,” and National Music Publishers Association President & CEO David Israelite, who praised it as “truly historic for songwriters and the entire music ecosystem which they fuel.” (“Historic,” indeed, seems the word of choice from the industry in describing the event.)

The bill is now headed to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will hear its own version on May 15th. If everything proceeds as predicted, the MMA will land on President Trump’s desk for final approval in a matter of weeks.