Will Streaming Music Soon Cost More?

Category: Music

The Music Modernization Act (MMA) has become law, after decades of wrangling between songwriters, producers, streaming services such as Spotify, and other stakeholders. More people will collect money for music. Does that mean you will pay more? Read on to see what the MMA does and how it may affect the cost of music...

What is the The Music Modernization Act?

So what's the scoop on the Music Modernization Act? Will it require all Frank Sinatra tunes to be re-mastered with hip-hop background tracks? Thankfully, not. It has more to do with how musicians, songwriters and other players in the music industry get paid for their efforts.

First, songwriters and artists will now receive royalties on works recorded before 1972. Second, the MMA authorizes a single, automated database of songs for digital streaming services to use when buying licenses and paying royalties; this will help rights holders get paid faster and more consistently.

Third, the MMA creates a legal process for the claiming of unpaid royalties, making it easier for rights holders to collect what is due to them. The database system will be paid for by streaming services, such as Spotify, Pandora, and Apple Music. It is reasonable to expect those costs to be passed on to music consumers. On the other hand, streaming services will save money under the new simplified regime, and those savings may offset the added costs.

Music Modenization Act

The MMA creates a licensing and royalties payment system that includes the vast majority of published music. For the first time, a streaming service will be able to license a body of many musical works in a single, simple transaction. If you want to license all country-western music, for example, you can just write one check and get on with your business. Currently, licensing all music in a genre involves innumerable letters and payments.

In the past, streaming services did not put much effort into paying royalties. Legally, it was enough to just set the money aside (earning interest) and wait for someone to claim it. But now royalties will be paid to the licensing and royalties database entity. Rights holders need only apply to that entity instead of many.

If you're not familiar with streaming music services, see my article [TUNES] Get Your Free Online Music. It contains links to the most popular online music sites, and how to access them for free. A related piece, Free Online Radio Services You'll Love, focuses on Internet radio stations. You'll like this one, especially if you hate Neil Young or love old-time radio classics.

“The Music Modernization Act is now the law of the land, and thousands of songwriters and artists are better for it,” said Recording Industry Association of America president Mitch Glazier in a statement. “The result is a music market better founded on fair competition and fair pay. The enactment of this law demonstrates what music creators and digital services can do when we work together collaboratively to advance a mutually beneficial agenda.”

“I like it,” said Kid Rock about the MMA at the law’s White House signing ceremony. He went on to note that it is the “unsung heroes” of music (pun intended?) who will benefit most: songwriters, producers, and engineers. In fact, the MMA is the first copyright law that even mentions producers.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about the MMA is that songwriters and streaming services agree on it. Those two groups traditionally communicate only in courtrooms. The lion and the lamb are, indeed, lying down together. We could use a bit more of that here in the USA.

Hopefully, the Music Modernization Act will only shift money from where it sits to where it belongs, and result in greater efficiency throughout the music industry. If that holds true, you'll still have a broad choice of free and paid music streaming services from which to choose.

Do you listen to online music? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Will Streaming Music Soon Cost More?"

Posted by:

Jim Swan
19 Oct 2018

As one who has been (not very successfully) trying to make money off streaming music, I am glad to see this long-overdue update to the law.

Posted by:

19 Oct 2018

I don't listen to streaming music. Never have, never will. That said, it is good to see that artists will finally have a means to collect royalties on their works. I don't know if there is any other copyrighted material more frequently stolen than music. Just as any other creator has a right to compensation when someone uses their work, so too do music makers. It's only fair. Especially given that every other service in the world gouges consumers with fees upon more fees. Try leasing a car, or any other product or service and read the fine print. This is long overdue. And morally necessary.

Posted by:

Kenneth Heikkila
19 Oct 2018

I have many thousands of Amazon Prime Music songs on my iPhone that I listen to daily. In the past I downloaded music from other sources. My wife uses Pandora and some other streaming music services. I'm glad to hear the creators are getting fair share.

Posted by:

19 Oct 2018

I think we'd be kidding ourselves to think the costs won't be passed on to consumers in a big way. It's just being masked as something which will help everybody involved and although it may help many people, consumers won't be helped other than having consolidated genres to pay even more money for their favorite music to listen to.
And good luck with small and otherwise obscure artists getting paid accordingly. Two words.....accounting tricks.
In theory, the new law sounds good, but I'm confident the people who brokered the deal did it for their own advantage. Time will prove me right.
Every single time these deals are reached, whether it be music, TV, internet or phone, it's been lipstick on a pig.

Posted by:

Louis Toscano
19 Oct 2018

I do not know how this will affect me. My parents were WWII generation; and it is their generation's music I like as well as standards and other dance bands. Nothing current fascinates me. With everything off one database, that sounds like big brother listening in. With so much vintage music part of my listening, I do not know how this Act would work out royalties. Many of the artists I listen to are gone and would be over 100 years old if still living.

Posted by:

19 Oct 2018

Most dead parties involved have ongoing Corps, LLCs, whatever that "hold/own" those rights.
Sony, Paramont, etc have bought and "own" innumerable rights of this nature.
I.E. Graceland @ Elvis's works ...

Posted by:

19 Oct 2018

There's always the radio. Yes, you'll have to listen to some things you don't like, but it's still free.

Posted by:

19 Oct 2018

Ahhhhmmmm Does this mean that Solomon Linda (1909-1961) will FINALLY be paid (his trust) for _The Lion Sleeps Tonight_, first recorded in 1939? [cite: Wiki, various other pages on the WWW which would take up too much room, but can be easily checked] With Interest (hopefully compounded hourly) so his family does not live in poverty?

Alas, I fear that this is just a law for mostly kinda-wanna-be and richer White guys, and a VERY few Rich(-er than normal) Black guys. (Think FDR and Alan Lomax, et.al. as a reference point). And, I wonder if the Original Carter Family; especially AP who wrote down every piece of 'mountain' and 'hill' music he could get his hands on and claim it as his own?

My X had close to 14K records (from round wax through flat glass, to vinyl of Country [Think Luvan Brothers, Cripple Creek Girls and other early Family Groups, through ditto only solo folks for 'Country' - and from unknown (mis- or lost label) Alan Lomax recordings through Ovron Grover and other early pre-1920 solo and group 'cowboy' singers (the 'Western' part of 'Country-Western genre) and perhaps 20% of them never received a penny from their music, -- which when adjusted to current value comes to LESS than a quarter (sans interest).

Now she interested in the Music of WW I and only has around 2K records or albums (again from wax through vinyl - and even with the addition of a wire player to her household, for old wire recordings) - I wonder if those 'boys in the trenches' or their kin will see THEIR royalties.

Native Americans - only about 1.5K recordings - most unknown but most famously covered by folks like Paul Ortega or Joanne Shenandoah, or Joe Tohonnie? Will they ever see the royalties necessary to move off The Rez?

Remember 'Cover' is, FOR THE MOST PART, "...just another word for thief?", to paraphrase Janis Joplin (and did SHE write those words, or are they, too, perhaps just a 'cover' of another artist?

Why not just make it a Birth-right for EVER person born to pay $10 into a fund AT BIRTH (just to make it fair to EVERYONE who makes a living writing and preforming music) for ALL the music they might hear in their life-time? OK, make it $20 at Birth - EVERY AMERICAN and a life time equivalent for every persons own median country income? It could also be a form of Birth Control - Can't afford just below and equivalent minimum wage (for your country-culture) as a 'rite de passage' to be allowed to listen or to play (non commercial) musical instrument? I play Dulcimer reasonably well - and I'm retired and living on a fixed income - and I KNOW that a lot of music I play covers other 'folk' songs I've heard, or incorporates parts of those songs as played by others (Camina Brauna [Carl Orff as covered by Sandy Bull when I try it for 40 years without success on my Banjo).

That would bring in (2018 @ $10 each) about $3, 267, 667, 480 -- a couplea-few billion dollars for ONE country which sure would go a long way to cover radio-streaming costs to the artist/writer/stage band. Concerts would of course be on top of that since you get to see the show. STREAMING OLD CONCERTS is covered in your rite de passage fee of $10us. (So I could listen to Eric Clapton at Cross Roads as often as I pleased, even down load it since he and all were paid for by the ticket sales.

Because it's country specific, every artist from that country gets paid; some FAR MORE OR LESS than we imagine - eg. India - ONLY $4.10us, but that is equal to $5,504,302,095is, or 5.5 BILLION dollars (us). I think that's a fair way to do things - everyone pays in, and everyone can listen or download -PLUS the artist can charge for live performances (concerts,etc) just like now - and can sell all the Merch they care to.

Just a humble thought. AND folks like Solomon Linda - Remember him? (1939, The Lion Sleeps Tonight, can pass on to his heirs their rightful income). Heck, when you come to think of it - a large income FAR exceeds a artists lifetime. True there may not be many living with Gold and Diamond Bathtubs or toilets, but ON THE WHOLE - even Bob Dylan - AKA Blind Boy Grunt - would be far more than well reimbursed for his creative endeavors.

Posted by:

20 Oct 2018

Of course costs will go up. RIAA has never been about fairness to artists, they are all about maximum monetization for the record companies. I don't stream - I buy music and have about 5-600 CDs plus digital music (purchased).

Posted by:

20 Oct 2018

After having items stolen from my motorhome, i.e.- cds. dvd, vhs tapes and other items, I visited flea markets and pawn shops.
Learned that cds and dvds can be bought cheaply at pawn shops. Even series dvds.

Posted by:

Gloria Huffman
20 Oct 2018

Thank you, Bob, for this easy to understand abstract of MMA. I glazed over when I saw the full text. No way was I going to read all that. So I'm truly grateful for your efforts. You're the man.

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