New legislation that largely reworks how artists and songwriters are paid and how music rates are set has been introduced to Congress. Called the Music Modernization Act, the bill is expected to be marked up on Wednesday. Per a press release, the bill "ensures that record producers, sound engineers, and other creative professionals receive compensation for their work." It also updates laws for the digital era with a blanketing licensing system, a shift in licensing costs to better benefit artists, and updated procedures that protects copyright owners rather than forcing them into litigation.
The bill is also noticeable as a rare bipartisan act, with its eight sponsors split directly in half by party. Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), who began working with Representative Doug Collins (R-Ga.) on music modernization several years ago, told The FADER that the aim of the legislation transcends party.
"Music modernization and licensing issues have historically been bipartisan in nature, stemming from the fact that music is a universal language," Rep. Jeffries said over the phone on Tuesday. "It brings people together outside of the Beltway, and music can also bring people together under the capitol dome. [Rep. Collins] and I have been able to continue that tradition, to make sure that we can continue to promote the creative middle class and ensure that artists and musicians can continue to share their creative brilliance with the world."
Rep. Jeffries says the bill's fundamental purpose is to make sure people are fairly compensated, noting that the bill has also unified stakeholders in the music industry, partners in the technology sector, and broadcasters.
"That combination of people coming together is a rarified feat, and is one that should ultimately lead to us getting a bill to the president’s desk to be signed into law," he said.
As for whether or not the president will actually sign the bill, Jeffries is hopeful, if not overly sure.
“I’m not really confident about anything from this administration, given the erratic nature of the White House on a variety of issues," he said, "but we’ve got no reason to believe that he has a particular dog in this fight.”
Read statements from the other Music Modernization Act sponsors here.