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Music Modernization Act brings artist compensation into the digital age

11 hours ago

Credit freeimages.com/Tyris Tyris

The Music Modernization Act was signed into law by President Trump on Thursday.

The legislation updates the way music is licensed and songwriters are compensated in the digital age.

The changes are long overdue, according to Bruce Pilato, a Rochester-based artist manager and music journalist.

The law establishes a new, independent entity that will license songs to companies that stream music online. Pilato says it also increases payments for artists whose pre -1972 music is streamed.

"So, if you heard 'I Can't Get No Satisfaction' by the Stones or a Beatles song from the sixties, they were paying something, but it wasn't paying what they paid post 1972,” Pilato said. “I don't know why the copyright law allowed for that, but it did. But anyway, now it'll allow these people to get paid as much as somebody who puts out a record today."

The new, nonprofit collective will also compensate songwriters, producers, and engineers their portion of the profits. 

Pilato said it's ironic that after the bill failed to gain traction in the Bush and Obama administrations, it was finally signed by President Donald Trump.

"Oh, he's hated by the music industry. I mean, Trump is just absolutely hated, and it's really unfair, because he's about business and this is a business decision. This was made to help businesses; it's not political in any way."

The Orrin B. Hatch Music Modernization Act won wide partisan support in the House and Senate. It’s named after the retiring Utah senator, who is also a musician.

The late Congresswoman Louise Slaughter was involved in drafting the legislation before her death, according to Pilato, who said he met with her to talk about it.