After unanimous passage of the Music Modernization Act (MMA) in the House of Representatives last month, the Senate Judiciary Committee hosted the “Protecting and Promoting Music Creation for the 21st Century” hearing on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. The hearing brought together music creators, including legendary artist Smokey Robinson and GRAMMY-nominated children’s singer/songwriter Justin Roberts, and the organizations that represent them to raise awareness of the issues they face, and to advocate for the Senate passage of this comprehensive legislation.
The wide-ranging support for the MMA from bipartisan lawmakers and the music industry is a testament to the need to bring the laws currently governing music into the 21st century.
Read the highlights of their comments below.
- “Now I fully recognize I have been lucky. I’ve been very blessed because I’m still able to perform and to earn a living, doing my craft, and making records and so-on and so-forth. But there are a lot of people – and I mean a whole lot of them – who are not as fortunate or as blessed as I am to have a continuing career which allows them to keep earning money to that degree and we need to take them into consideration. It’s only right. For many at this point in their careers, [royalties are] how they make ends meet.” – Smokey Robinson, GRAMMY Award-winning artist
- “Every member of this committee who has shown up here today is for solving this problem. And I hope that we can move ahead to get this problem solved because it is really unjust the way the system currently works. I think we can make it a much better system with a lot more incentives than we have today and create a situation where a lot of more talented people can get involved and we’ll all benefit from more music, more talent, more opportunity, etc.”– Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
- “It has become clear that these outdated policies, which have not changed since the dawn of this digital era, have not stood the test of time and are not able to protect properly or promote music creation in the 21st century music economy.” – David Israelite, President and CEO, National Music Publishers’ Association
- “I think we can all agree that even though some of our best and greatest music comes from previous decades, that should not mean that our music licensing laws should only be in that decade.” – Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA)
- “Try an experiment. Listen to the 1969 version of the song “I Second That Emotion” by The Supremes and the Temptations. Reflect on the smooth sonic quality created by producer Frank Wilson. Appreciate the incredible vocals, including those of Mary Wilson, who’s here with us today. And enjoy the emotional truth in the songwriting, by none other than Smokey Robinson. Each contributor combined efforts to make this classic track. Now we ask you to pass this combined, comprehensive bill to protect all music makers who have given us so much.” – Justin Roberts, GRAMMY Award-winning artist
- “To illustrate the need for this solution, look how the current law has led to nonsensical results: some digital services refuse to pay to digitally perform Frank Sinatra’s recording of “My Way” made in 1969, but they do pay when they play the versions of that song recorded by Elvis Presley in 1973, Sid Vicious in 1978, and Seth McFarlane in 2016. It doesn’t make any sense.” – Mitch Glazier, President, Recording Industry Association of America
- “I live in Austin, Texas which is the live music capital of the world – at least that’s what we call it. There are about 15,000 music industry professionals including about 8,000 recording artists. It is big business, creates a lot of jobs. 95,000 permanent jobs according to the Texas Music Office. $3.6 billion dollars in annual earnings and over $8.5 million dollars in annual economic activity. It’s not only a job creator, but something that has made our lives more enjoyable.” – Senator John Cornyn (R-TX)
- “Since the year 2000, the number of professional songwriters in Nashville has declined by 80 percent. We have lost our entire middle class of songwriters. They’re gone. That statistic is due directly to the shift from the way we used to listen and acquire our music to the way we enjoy our music now in the digital era. The world has completely changed under our feet. We’re still operating on old and outdated laws. Our music is being used more than ever and valued less.” – Josh Kear, GRAMMY Award-winning songwriter
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