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‘Music Omnibus’ Bill Would Change Digital Streaming

by Countable | Updated on 4.13.18

What’s the story?

  • A bipartisan group of lawmakers have introduced what’s being called the “music omnibus" billa piece of legislation that would affect Spotify, Apple Music, Google, Amazon, and Pandora.
  • The Music Modernization Act “is designed to significantly update several key provisions of U.S. copyright law regarding music licensing” as “much of the current licensing system was established in an analog song-by-song era using compulsory licenses first established in 1909.”
  • The package is meant to streamline how songwriters are paid in the era of digital music.
  • House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), who introduced the Music Modernization Act, tweeted:


What would the Music Modernization Act do?

  • As NPR summarized, “the bill will establish a public database of compositions, who owns those compositions, who wrote them and who administers them.”
  • The database will be run by the to-be-established Music Licensing Collective (potentially known as SongExchange, a sister to currently-established SoundExchange), which will be populated by representatives from the major publishing companies and songwriters.


What other bills are included in the music omnibus?

  • Allocation for Music Producers: creates a way for producers and engineers to receive direct payments from music databases when recordings are used on satellite radio and online radio services like Pandora.
  • Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, and Important Contributions to Society (CLASSICS): require digital services to pay both rights holders and artists for the use of recordings made before 1972. (Currently, digital broadcasters like Sirius XM do not pay royalties on songs recorded prior to 1972.)
  • Songwriter Equity Act: Allows judges on the Copyright Royalty Board to consider market conditions when setting its rates. It will also allow courts to consider relevant benchmark deals.
"Three-quarters of a songwriter's income is regulated by the federal government," National Music Publishers Assn. president David Israelite said in a statement. “While most property rights are valued in a free market, songwriters have suffered under a system that devalues their work and takes away their most basic property rights...if songwriters' royalties must be regulated, they should at least be based on fair market value." 

Who supports the bill?

  • Put on your Focus Playlist for this one. Supporters include: the Internet Association, SAG-AFTRA and AFM, the National Music Publishers Association, the Recording Industry Association of America, the Recording Academy, Nashville Songwriters Association International, ASCAP and BMI, C3, A2IM, Songwriters Guild of America, Songwriters of North America, SoundExchange, and the Digital Media Association and its member companies Pandora, Spotify, and Amazon. 

What do you think?

Do you use any streaming music services? Are you a songwriter? Do you support the various pieces of the "music omnibus bill"? Would you like to see certain items removed or added? Hit Take Action and tell your reps, then share your thoughts below.


—Josh Herman


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(Photo Credit: yipengge / iStock)

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(50)
  • Jono
    04/14/2018
    ···

    I have several concerns. Though I am of a mindset that we need to update how royalties and rights are handled in the music industry I would like a few key things answered. 1) how does this affect royalties for use in productions? Will this streamline where to go if I want to use a piece of music in a production? Or just make it so I have to pay more for royalties? 2) as others have asked, how would public domain work in this system? Or would it be done away with and now I would have to pay to use a specific companies recording of Mozart? 3) how will this affect streaming services? I believe artists need to get paid for their work outside of "exposure", but I can't do $50 a month for streaming services. 4) does this make it easier for musicians/artists to be paid and does it include those rare instances where a recording mixer or audio engineer needs to be paid for their work? It's vague enough to create more problems than it may relieve.

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  • OldTimer
    04/13/2018
    ···

    While I do believe this process needs to be updated and modernized however, as this bill is written I would have to vote against it. There is no provision that I see regarding moving music into public domain. Here is an example of what I mean under this bill people would be trying to figure out who and how to pay the heirs for the music Mozart played and would be trying to figure out how to value them. If they would fix that issue I would switch from nay to yea.

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  • BeStrong
    04/14/2018
    ···

    You know what...after watching 50 or so congress persons stumble over themselves in their questioning of Zuckerberg & FB, it is clear that these numbskulls need to keep their hands off of anything ‘tech media’. Their expertise level is in line with the 8 track tape. Stay out of my digital music. Let the mega entertainment businesses change their artist compensation model or we’ll see streaming music go the way of Napster.

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  • Laura
    04/14/2018
    ···

    Great. Allowing internet access to be limited isn’t enough. Now they want to take away our music. I recognize music as intellectual property and the artists who create it need to be fairly compensated. I honestly don’t mind paying a bit more so that artists can be better compensated. But I’m opposed to paying more just so Sony and the big boys can be more profitable and that’s what seems most likely once Congress gets involved. This Congress isn’t exactly known for taking care of the little guy, are they? Fairly compensating artists for their intellectual property is a real issue. This “omnibus” bill just doesn’t seem like a real solution to me. We want music. The world needs music. But no one wants to go back to buying LPs or CDs as a primary source and many of us can’t afford to. And NPR is pretty much the only radio that doesn’t suck. So access to streaming music services is something most of us are unwilling to relinquish. Given the tech savvy on display by Congress this week, it hardly seems they’re the ones best suited to solve this problem. Maybe someone who knows what Spotify is and how to use it should address this issue instead.

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  • MinnesotaMom
    04/13/2018
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    I support the Music Omnibus Bill. Music is like any other intellectual property, like a book, a movie or any kind of patent. It has been patently unfair for drug companies patents to be sacred while artists' work was so routinely stolen. I would feel more comfortable buying into a streaming service if this bill passed (i am one of the ten people who still buy music)

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  • Michael
    04/13/2018
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    Artists should get more of the loyalties. However i don’t want to see the consumer getting hit with more fees at the same time. Let Sony and the other big boys pay their fair share instead.

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  • RadicalModerate
    04/15/2018
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    Please crack down on the Disney corporation and the corrupt law makers who exempted it from public domain laws.

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  • Leon
    04/13/2018
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    So, when numerous businesses already track this data, why do we need the gubmint to be involved at all?

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  • Deirdre
    04/14/2018
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    You all do not understand social media nor the internet so stay out of it until you understand it

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  • James
    04/13/2018
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    Get ready for streaming services to skyrocket, somewhere about double what they are now, are you going to be wiling to pa 25 -30 $$$ a month? You have no idea how the music industry gouges all the money coming in, not paying royalties till sued, the music companies are never satisfied, no matter how wide the margin of profit is, let them pay more, not the consumer, Corporate greed has to stop, these CEO's are way over paid, give them a pay cut !!

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  • NoHedges
    04/13/2018
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    When is the legislation being passed by the 115 Corporate Congress going to focus on those who vote? You do realize this type of hyperfocus on one sector or one demographic is what is going to cost the majority of you your jobs, correct?

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  • Joanne
    04/15/2018
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    I would like to know if this bill has anything to do with them taking away Net Neutrality? Is this really about helping song writers or is this just another way to give BIG money more money and hurt the already hurting people?

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  • Rego
    04/14/2018
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    I like the idea of artists getting money for the songs they made, but why should we end up having to pay for it when streaming prices jack up?

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  • S
    04/14/2018
    ···

    This bill is a great start. Those people commenting that they don’t support it because they don’t want to pay more really need to re-read what this bill does. It ensures that legacy artists (pre-1972) receive their royalties. Also, it eliminates the government mandated rates that all of you lovers of free markets should support. This means more money going to the artists where it belongs. It also addresses producers, non-featured artists, and engineers. Long overdue!

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  • Jim2423
    04/13/2018
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    Oh well it was nice for a while guess I go back to paid radio and listen to limited junk.

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  • HardcoreModerate
    04/15/2018
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    I like the goal, but after the fiasco that was the Zuckerberg hearing I'm a little skeptical about our current Congress being able to competently regulate other modern technologies like music streaming.

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  • Azrael
    04/13/2018
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    No Go back to the drawing board

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  • Michael
    04/13/2018
    ···

    Artists should get more of the loyalties. However i don’t want to see the consumer getting hit with more fees at the same time. Let Sony and the other big boys pay their fair share instead.

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  • BrandonRice
    04/13/2018
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    Sounds like the artists will receive a bigger cut of the royalty pie? ...So yes.

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  • DEGUp
    04/14/2018
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    This is dumb. The public good from copyrighting songs is small, so the law should be simplified and no board of established corporations should exist. It just opens the door to favoring the fat cats over independent songwriters.

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