Music Modernization Act. How to Collect Your Royalties

music modernization act

The music industry has been in a state of speedy change for the past few decades.

What began as a move from analog to digital media has to turn out to be a total paradigm shift in how listeners interact with music.

However, the systems that assist artists and industry pros and help them get credit for their work have been slow to catch up.

That’s the reason why the US government has implemented new legislation called the Music Modernization Act (MMA) to help the industry.

It sounds promising, however, what is the MMA? Why was it essential and how does it affect your music?

In this article, we’ll break down everything you should know in regards to the Music Modernization Act.

What is the music modernization act?

The music modernization act is a bill of US legislation that goals to reform music copyright. The idea is to make it easier for rights holders to receive fair compensation as streaming becomes the dominant method people listen to music.

The MMA and its associated bills the CLASSICS and AMP act aim for section 115 of the US Copyright act in some of the sweeping reforms to copyright in two decades.

Here are the most essential takeaways from the changes:

  • A government-designated non-profit called the MLC (Mechanical Licensing Collective) will help to collect and distribute royalties
  • Recording engineers, sound engineers, and mix engineers will have the ability to accumulate royalties by sending a letter of direction to Sound Exchange
  • Pre 1972 recordings will get more protection under copyright law


How can you benefit from the Music Modernization Act?

Music copyright in the US has lagged behind the technological developments and changes to the industry.

The result is that songwriters, artists, and different rights holders have usually struggled to get paid on time. They will undergo it even when their work is going well.

Here’s what you can do to the greatest benefit from these systems.

1. Ensure your metadata is correct

Whenever you upload your music to a digital distribution service ensure your metadata is properly entered.

You want everything to be accurately entered to receive your ISRC codes which make it possible for the government and performing rights organizations (PROs) to track usage of your content.

Luckily, music distribution services like LANDR guide you through this process so nothing is lost.

2. Send a Letter of Direction to SoundExchange

When you have credits as a music producer, mixer, or sound engineer you may receive royalties from SoundExchange—a brand new non-profit set up by the US government to make these payments.

All you need to do is send in a Letter of Direction to the SoundExchange and then you’ll be set up to receive your royalties.

3. Register your work with the Mechanical Licensing Collective

Starting in 2021 the MLC will accumulate royalties paid from digital music providers and distribute them to artists.

Keep in mind, you need these royalties for the right to reproduce and distribute musical works.

These royalties are not paid in the same way ASCAP or BMI’s royalties, which are paid based on individual performances of a musical work.

Ensure your works are identified and matched in the MLC’s database. This is the easiest way to help you earn revenue.

4. Register with the Copyright Office

The MLC is not a stand-in for registration with the Copyright Office.

So that you’ll also need to register your music there if you want to be eligible for legal coverage if you enter any legal disputes or accumulate damages due to copyright infringements.

5. Don’t forget to register with your PRO

Registering with the MLC is only one avenue for collecting all your royalties.

If you don’t register with a PRO like ASCAP or BMI ensure to get that done too since registration with the MLC won’t assist you to collect the performance royalties the PROs payout.

If you need any help, here is the process for registering with PROs in the articles from LANDR.

How does the Music Modernization Act affect you?

The MMA is a crucial step toward fair compensation for anyone who holds music copyright.

If you’re the only creator of your original work—that means you!

For independent creators who play multiple roles in their music, proper collection, attribution, and dispensation of royalties are essential.

So, 2021 is time to ensure you’re ready for every role you play in producing, creating, and publishing your music!

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