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Music Modernization Act just became US law

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Oct 11, 2018 - 10:50:23 AM

Tobus

USA

1577 posts since 11/17/2015

https://www.engadget.com/2018/10/11/music-modernization-act-signed-into-law/

I just saw this in the news headlines, and I'm embarrassed to admit that I hadn't heard of it until today.  Can someone explain what this will mean to us little folks, in terms of how it affects playing particular songs at public jams?  Will this change anything about the current licensing organizations that troll around looking for people to threaten?  Will it make it easier for local musicians to obtain rights to play certain songs?

Oct 11, 2018 - 11:04:14 AM

Jbo1

USA

660 posts since 5/19/2007

Tobus I have been authorized by the United States Federal Government to collect all fees for songs played at public and/or private jams. Anyone playing, listening, toe-tapping, vamping, or even thinking of a song at a jam, whether in a public place or within the comfy confines of your domicile, must send me $1 per song that you were playing, listening, toe-tapping, etc, etc.

Should you not pay the government $1 for every song played, listened to, toe-tapped, etc, etc, you shall be forced, under the fullest extent of the law, to play "Wagon Wheel" at every jam you attend.

Oct 11, 2018 - 11:09:51 AM

Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

21727 posts since 8/3/2003

I doubt that it will have any impact on jams .... free jams that are just folks getting together to sing, pick and enjoy the music. No cover charge, no paid musicians, no royalties due.

For large festivals, it may cause a bit more work for the sponsors to be certain that copyright laws are conformed to and that royalties are paid to those who should receive them.

Smaller festivals probably won't generate enough revenue to garner any attention.

Some restaurants and bars may have to do more homework on what music is being played. Smaller venues probably won't.

Please understand this is strictly conjecture on my part. I have no idea and since the law is new, there is no way to know for sure how this is going to affect anyone or any type of music.

Oct 11, 2018 - 11:29:58 AM

Banjo Lefty

Canada

1288 posts since 6/19/2014

I’m guessing that jams won’t be affected because there’s no audience. If there’s no audience, then there’s no performance, and the performance is what attracts royalties. In fact, a jam could be seen as analogous to a rehearsal, for which, of course, there are no royalties.

Edited by - Banjo Lefty on 10/11/2018 11:30:29

Oct 11, 2018 - 11:39:27 AM

1659 posts since 2/16/2017

Tobin, this one got past me too...1st I'm hearing about it.

I will have to read more about to understand ti completely, but it seems like it will affect streaming services the most. Since the napster days artists have been betting gypped by the shift to on-demand online listening. I'll bet streaming services will increase their fees, and I don't know about Pandora (which, incidentally, was recently bought out by Sirius).

I am fully supportive of artists making their due, but I there is always another shoe to drop. I bet in a few years we'll be reading about some loophole in this law that the record companies are exploiting because they too have been taking a bath in recent years.

Rare for a bill to unanimously pass both houses these days though, isn't it?

Oct 11, 2018 - 12:03:50 PM

32 posts since 8/14/2018

quote:
Originally posted by FlyinEagle


I am fully supportive of artists making their due, but I there is always another shoe to drop. I bet in a few years we'll be reading about some loophole in this law that the record companies are exploiting because they too have been taking a bath in recent years.

 


 

Yes, this is mostly about streaming and dealing with the mess of state laws for pre-1972 recordings. It's mostly a good thing. But you know it wouldn't be getting through with the support of the RIAA if they'd had to give up a lot in favor of either working musicians or customers.

Oct 11, 2018 - 12:05:59 PM

49199 posts since 12/14/2005

Maybe I'll just write more of my OWN dang songs!

I have noticed that, during instrumental breaks on almost ALL 4 beat bluegrass songs, it is possible to sing THESE lyrics to WHICHEVER tune they're playing:

Bluegrass music SOUNDS the same!
It all sounds the same!
I've listened all day,
And all I've got to say,
Is "
Bluegrass music sounds the same!
"   cheeky

Oct 11, 2018 - 12:16:17 PM
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1196 posts since 11/15/2010

Geez, if both parties in Congress agreed on this bill, it must really screw the public. (I say that only half in jest). 

Oct 11, 2018 - 12:26:34 PM

4799 posts since 5/8/2014

Aha!


 

Oct 11, 2018 - 1:04:59 PM
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Jbo1

USA

660 posts since 5/19/2007

Rawhide Creek , that guy owes me $1.

Oct 11, 2018 - 1:10:18 PM

Tobus

USA

1577 posts since 11/17/2015

quote:
Originally posted by Texasbanjo

I doubt that it will have any impact on jams .... free jams that are just folks getting together to sing, pick and enjoy the music. No cover charge, no paid musicians, no royalties due.

For large festivals, it may cause a bit more work for the sponsors to be certain that copyright laws are conformed to and that royalties are paid to those who should receive them.

Smaller festivals probably won't generate enough revenue to garner any attention.

Some restaurants and bars may have to do more homework on what music is being played. Smaller venues probably won't.

Please understand this is strictly conjecture on my part. I have no idea and since the law is new, there is no way to know for sure how this is going to affect anyone or any type of music.


Sherry, I personally know people who have gotten threatening letters from industry attorneys just because they played common bluegrass songs at jams in public.  A jam in someone's home, or in a church, or other private establishment is one thing.  But a lot of jams are held at restaurants, especially mom & pop joints.  These are not "performances" per se; the owners just let the players get together there and have some fun in the corner.  But the music industry has teams of attorneys and (for lack of a better term) henchmen who actively travel around looking for these informal jams.  They have been threatening business owners and musicians for years, and shutting down jams.  They claim that if it's in a place where the public hears it, it's a performance and royalties are owed.  And of course, they have a handy subscription package that you can pay for, to make all your problems go away.

It is a real issue that has many people scared to play at a jam in public, or at a local farmer's market, or even a nursing home.  I was just wondering if this new law will eventually make this problem better or worse.

Oct 11, 2018 - 1:29:05 PM

1659 posts since 2/16/2017

I don't know the law, but I always thought there are protections in place for live cover performances. If you cover a song and put it on your album, that's one thing, but playing a cover song in front of an audience is generally not subject to royalties.

Oct 11, 2018 - 1:51:24 PM
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1536 posts since 2/10/2003

The MMA basically centers around mechanical royalties and streaming music.

Basically when a song is played over the radio, there is a mechanical royalty owed to the owner of the composition. Since the advent of various steaming services and mediums, this rate was a gray area. Is it active/on demand streaming or passive?, And if so what would be the royalty owed? Active streaming is like asking Alexa to play a particualr song by a particular artist. Passive streaming is asking Alexa to play bluegrass and having a particular song played. Prior to this the rates were all over the board and there was no real way to track this, which led to a lot of missed and or underpaid mechanicals.

Where the performing rights royalty, which is paid to the copyright owner, comes into play is now ASCAP, BMI, etc. have a better way to track the plays of their catalog and can compensate the performance, ie stream, of their songwriters songs. It will change very little if any of how they blanket license venuses, Bars, restaurants, etc. for use of their catalog. Live performances do not generate mechanical royalties however they do generate public performance royalties, which are paid by the various PROs. Therefore a venue which features public performance, either live, recorded, or both. Is subject to being licensed so performance royalty is paid. The mechanical royalty (if recorded music is played over a streaming service, radio, etc, is paid by the service.

Edited by - 250gibson on 10/11/2018 14:04:39

Oct 12, 2018 - 6:20:54 AM

803 posts since 2/10/2013

If there is a way to make a buck, lawyers will exploit it.

Oct 13, 2018 - 5:41:16 AM
Players Union Member

dbrooks

USA

3451 posts since 3/11/2004

250Gibson, thank you for your explanation of the MMA. I found it very helpful.

David

Oct 16, 2018 - 11:23:30 PM
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rcc56

USA

1772 posts since 2/20/2016

The Music Modernization Act is an update of the copyright laws to take care of the obscenely low royalties some of the streaming services have been paying artists. One example in an archived thread is the 43 cents one of our professional members was paid for 15,000 Spotify and Pandora airplays.   See bevans' post here:  http://www.banjohangout.org/topic/154475/106

For years, the music union newspaper has been filled with examples of artists at all levels of the profession being paid a few pennies for many thousands of airplays on the streaming services.

This has been an ongoing problem for many years. The music union and the RIAA [the recording industry's professional organization] have actually been working together to try and get congress to update the copyright laws. Under normal circumstances, the likelihood of getting the RIAA and the union to agree and work together on anything is like trying to get oil and water to mix.

As a fellow who has somehow made a full time living in the music business, I am very happy to see that something has finally been done.  We have been waiting for this for over a decade.  Even if the terms of the act turn out to be less than we might hope for, it will be a vast improvement over the conditions of the past several years.

Oct 17, 2018 - 8:17:50 AM

1536 posts since 2/10/2003

The “back end” payments have been shrinking for years due to streaming. Hopefully this will help to bring it back up. Still waiting to see what effects it has on sync royalties with streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, etc.

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