Senate Passes the Music Modernization Act In a Unanimous 'Hotline' Vote

Senate Passes the Music Modernization Act In a Unanimous 'Hotline' Vote

The Music Modernization Act has officially passed the U.S. Senate, thanks to a unanimous fast-track vote.

The ‘hotline’ voting process is designed to fast-track the bill without a formal debate.  The trick worked, with ‘unanimous consent’ from all 100 Senators — or at least no objections.

Digital Music News first broke the news of the hotline vote on Sunday.

Now, the 185-page bill heads back to the U.S. House of Representatives, where various modifications will be integrated with the earlier House version.  Earlier, the bill passed unanimously in the House as well, though significant changes to the legislation have since occurred.

“The bill is a great step forward towards a fairer music ecosystem that works better for music creators, services, and fans,” the Content Creators Coalition declared in an email to Digital Music News.  The group is just one of several industry organizations cheering the win, including the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), SoundExchange, and others.

The bill, S.2334, was initially introduced by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee), and faced considerably more opposition in the upper chamber.

That included major protests from Blackstone Group, owner of mechanical licensing group Harry Fox Agency (HFA), and Oregonian Senator Ron Wyden, who disagreed with pre-1972 copyright extension terms.

But perhaps the biggest opposition came from Sirius XM.  The company refused to back the bill based partly on sweetheart royalty exemptions granted to traditional radio broadcasters.  The satellite giant also protested pre-1972 royalty stipulations, including those that could wipe out its earlier agreements with various copyright owners.

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That opposition drew intense protest from major superstars, including Paul McCartney, Katy Perry, and high-wattage songwriter Max Martin.  In total, more than 150 artists threatened to boycott the satellite radio giant.

But Sirius stood its ground, pointing to billions in royalties paid and serious flaws in the MMA legislation.  Sirius openly questioned the ‘holy war’ being mounted against it, though the celebrity protest may have given the MMA enough fuel to garner the unanimous vote.