Music Modernization Act Signed Into Law

October 11, 2018
Post by Brandon W. Clark

Earlier today, the Music Modernization Act (MMA) was signed into law. The MMA is a sweeping reform to music licensing and copyright related royalty payments and marks the first significant copyright legislation passed in decades.

The House unanimously approved the bill in April followed by the Senate unanimously approving the legislation in September. The MMA then returned to the House for approval of the Senate version, and as of today, has been signed into law. The legislation includes a number of components, including the right for artists to receive royalties for pre-1972 recordings, as well as improved processing and payments to songwriters and music publishers for works played on streaming services. Perhaps most significantly, the MMA creates a blanket mechanical license and centralized system to administer it, while also changing some considerations used in setting music publishing standard royalty rates.

Specifically, the MMA contains three separate pieces of legislation:

– The Music Modernization Act of 2018, S.2334, introduced by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) in January, which updates licensing and royalties as they pertain to streaming services.

– The CLASSICS Act (or Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, & Important Contributions to Society Act), introduced in February by Chris Coons (D-DE) and John Kennedy (R-LA) to ensure that artists receive royalty payments on pre-1972 audio recordings.

– The AMP Act (or Allocation for Music Producers Act), introduced in March by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and ranking committee member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA.) with the support of Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) which changes the way some music producers will collect and receive royalties.

As mentioned above, the MMA marks the first significant copyright legislation passed in decades and comes as a result of bipartisan support and rare support across differing sectors of the music industry. The legislation marks the first step in an ongoing struggle between copyright owners and copyright users to adapt to an evolving digital landscape.

Brandon W. Clark is the Chair of the Copyright, Entertainment & Media Law Practice Group at McKee, Voorhees & Sease, PLC. For additional information, please visit or contact Brandon directly via email at

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