Dear Member of Congress,
If passed, the Music Modernization Act (MMA) will greatly impact the lives and livelihood of hundreds of thousands of music creators in the United States and around the world. As a music creator and a supporter of MusicAnswers, it’s important to me that that impact be positive. Despite what you may have heard, many in the music creator community have deep reservations about some of the aspects of this legislation.
I am writing to let you know that I believe the MMA, as currently drafted, can and should be improved in the following ways:
1. Music creators should have parity with publishers on the boards that will be established by the bill. As it stands, songwriters and composers are grossly under-represented.
2. Writers must choose the writer members of the boards of the Music Licensing Collective. As it stands, publishers will be able to select the writer members of the board.
3. Only those who dedicate their lives and careers to creating music and lyrics should be eligible to serve as a writer member of the boards of the Collective. The bill should include a clear definition that achieves this goal.
4. The bill must be changed so that only those whose work generates unclaimed (“black box”) royalties are able to collect them. As written, the bill allows black box royalties to be claimed by the major music publishers. These publishers are the least likely parties to be entitled to these funds.
5. The bill should include greater elements of transparency and accountability, including an audit right for independent writers and an elimination of the requirement that those who sign up with the Collective must register their works with the Copyright Office.
None of these proposed changes would negatively affect the actual functioning or effectiveness of the proposed system. None are likely to upset the digital music services. All will instead help the MMA achieve most of its major goals, most important, the equitable distribution of mechanical royalties from streaming.
Without these improvements, Congress will miss a true opportunity to protect individual music creators and, instead, give an unparalleled, unnecessary, and unfair degree of control and unearned revenue to the major music publishers, who have already protected their individual interests through deals with the digital services.
With all the above in mind, I urge you and your colleagues to work to improve this legislation to better protect the creators, without whom there would be no music business at all. I thank you for your consideration
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