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Songwriters Gain Influence in How the Music Modernization Act Would Work

After further negotiations between songwriter groups and music publishers, songwriters may have a bigger role in participating in how an agency created to expedite a proposed blanket mechanical license will conduct business. That is, if the Music Modernization Act is passed.

What the law ultimately says is up to members of the House and Senate, who will write the legislation and the subsequent regulations, but in the meantime, negotiations between the Songwriters Guild of America, Nashville Songwriters Association International, and Songwriters of North America and the National Music Publisher’s Association have resulted in a proposal that allows songwriters and composers to have four seats on the now-expanded 14-seat board of directors, instead of the initially allotted two seats for songwriters on a smaller 10-seat board; while the unclaimed royalties oversight committee will now be evenly divided between publishers and songwriters. It also has resulted in additional clarifications to how payouts from unclaimed funds are distributed.


“We were pleased to work with NSAI, SONA and SGA on proposed improvements which give songwriters and independent publishers even more representation in the Music Modernization Act,” NMPA president and CEO David Israelite said in a statement. “The suggested changes were the result of significant input from all of the organizations involved in this process, and in particular the songwriting organizations, and I thank them for coming to the table to make a good bill even better.”

While the first two songwriter groups, the NSAI and SONA, had already come out in favor of the proposed legislation, the Songwriters Guild Of America initially withheld endorsing the legislation, saying it had some reservations about elements of it. But now SGA president Rick Carnes says his group is on board. 

As part of the proposed changes, Carnes says that exclusionary clauses in older songwriter/publishers contracts sometimes prevent songwriters from collecting royalties because that clause allows

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