A Compromise Has Been Reached with SESAC on the Music Modernization Act

BY CATHERINE CHOJNOWSKI

Following public protest of SESAC's proposed amendment to the Music Modernization Act (MMA) from many artists and songwriters, the performance rights organization has managed to reach a compromise with songwriter groups.

The agreement transforms the Mechanical Licensing Collective from a monopoly-like group to a more competitive organization. SESAC, along with various songwriter groups including Nashville Songwriters Association International, the National Music Publishers' Association, and Songwriters of North America published a joint press release on August 2nd stating:

At the encouragement of Senators closely involved in this legislation, all parties came together to agree on outstanding items related to the MMA including the reform of the Section 115 compulsory license and other important related matters. We share a collective responsibility to help ensure that the MMA benefits all stakeholders in the industry and look forward to the Senate’s consideration of the bill.

The National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), which represents major publishing groups such as Warner/Chappell Music, Universal Music Publishing Group, and Sony/ATV Music Publishing, explained that under the new agreement the Mechanical Licensing Collective will not have the power to administer licenses for synch, performance, or other rights. In a public statement, the NMPA also clarified that the Mechanical Licensing Collective was never intended to be the exclusive mechanical rights licensing administrator for streaming under the MMA and was always designed with the intention to compete with other mechanical licensing groups.

With this compromise, songwriter groups released statements following the decision:

We are stronger when our music family speaks with one voice and this agreement will allow us to come together to work towards the passage of the MMA. Songwriters need and deserve this bill. We thank the Senators involved for their leadership and guidance.
— David Israelite, President and CEO, NMPA
Reaching consensus within the music industry, on what may be the most important songwriter legislation in history, is a win for American songwriters and the broader music community. We are pleased to have put our differences behind us and support this bill in unanimous harmony. The Nashville Songwriters Association International has been a friend and fan of SESAC’s for decades and that is how our relationship will immediately resume.
— Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI)
We are pleased to have come together with our partners SESAC, the NMPA, SONA and NSAI to move forward as a unified music community to support the successful passage and implementation of the much-needed Music Modernization Act. SONA would personally like to thank our partners, the NSAI and songwriter Ross Golan for their efforts and support in mobilizing the songwriter and artist community nationwide.
— Michelle Lewis and Kay Hanley, Executive Directors, Songwriters of North America (SONA)

Although many other details of the compromise have not been disclosed to the public, the Music Modernization Act is sure to receive a lot of attention as it moves through the legislative process.

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