Music Modernization Act: What You Should Know About It in 2021


Most artists are aware that the Music Modernization Act (MMA) was passed by the United States Congress in 2018, but many don’t understand all that the act entails. It has been put in place to help restructure music as we know it now in a more digital economy to ensure that songwriters were appropriately treated and received due royalties.

The MMA works more exclusively with streaming platforms, such as Spotify, Apple Music, and Bandcamp. In addition, the Copyright Office created the Mechanical Licencing Collective (MLC) to collect and distribute royalty payments to the original owners of musical works. 

What is the Music Modernization Act?

Specifically, the MMA is reforming music copyright. It was enacted to make it easier for those who have authorship over their music to receive fairer compensation. The US government implemented this new legislation with the MLC. This allows for not just music artists but recording, sound, and mixing engineers to collect royalties through the Sound Exchange.

There has been a delay in developing copyrights since emerging, and ever-changing technology has created such advancements with music. For that reason, many musical artists struggle to get paid. 

When a music artist goes to license music, the artist also needs to register the music with a Performing Rights Organization or PRO such as ASCAP or BMI. These organizations, like the MLC, advocate for you, the songwriter, and collect royalties on your behalf. The MLC does not take the place of a PRO and will not affect your ability to receive royalties from your registration with one.

How to Ensure Your Proper Royalty Payments with MMA

To make sure that you, as a music artist, get paid correctly and on time with this new legislation, there are some things that you should know:

  • Letter of Direction - If you have credits or are due royalties as a producer, engineer, or artist, you can send a letter to the Sound Exchange, which is a recent non-profit that was created by the government to make payments.

  • Check Your Metadata - All metadata needs to be correctly categorized with all possible for discovery, and include all of the following:

  • - Title of Music Track
    - Artist and Featured Artist(s)
    - Genre
    - Subgenre
    - Publisher
    - Composer
    - Producers (this would include any sound engineers/mixers)
    - Explicit Content (if any)
    - Year/Date of Release
    - Album (it it is part of an entire album)
    - Owner of Master Recording

    Make sure you check all spelling and formatting. Keeping all of your music organized is the best way to ensure that your music can be tracked correctly within the MLC system.

    All of this may sound like a lot and seem daunting, but it is not all that difficult to understand. In its most basic form, the MMA and registration of your original music are steps you need to take if you want to be adequately paid. 

    Educate Yourself

    If it helps you as a musician, you can read more about MMA on the Federal Register. The more you know about it, the more prepared you will be to know all of your rights regarding it. Some other important tips that you should know regarding the new act:

    • The MLC will not distribute any royalties with private agreements. If you register with a music licensing company or sign any contracts when permitting another party to use your recording. 
    • The MLC’s job with this act is to distribute mechanical license royalties for the use of music works owned by songwriters and publishers, so statutory royalties for the benefit of sound recordings that are owned by labels or producers will not get paid - Sound Exchange is in charge of those certain royalties.
    • The chances are that the MMA will evolve and change, but it is a massive step forward for songwriters and composers in the music streaming world. It is a way to validate the efforts that they make in creating their own original works.

      If you feel that things are still confusing or not clear enough, it doesn’t hurt to reach out to a music lawyer that can help you to understand the complexities. There are a lot of legal terms and as a musician you don’t want to cross any copyrights or deal with infringement suits. Musicians need to gain knowledge and be sure to prepare themselves, as well as be in a good position to take on the changes that this new act will bring.

      Author: Melissa Waltz

    Darro Chea: Standing The Test Of Time

    I started playing guitar when I was 14 years old. Back then I had this weird chip on my shoulder where I didn’t allow myself to have certain pieces of gear until I had reached a certain level of playing. It sounds ridiculous looking back on it - I was my own gatekeeper. But there were some benefits to my self-inflicted discipline. I got pretty good at guitar.

    During my first year of college, I was completely lost with what career to choose. The logical decision would have been to enter into a field where the job market was booming; computer science, medicine, etc. But of course, I was obsessed with the guitar. I actually failed my pre-calculus class twice during freshman year. Why? Because I was skipping class to stay in my dorm room to practice.

    So, in 2012, I decided to audition for music school. I figured the ultimate test to see whether or not I was good enough to keep playing music at school, was to become a music student. Because of this, I started snooping around the music college of my university, and there I saw it. Every guitar major was carrying around these hip, dark black guitar soft cases! Up until this point I was carrying a hard case by its handle everywhere I went. It was tiresome.

    But these gig bags, they looked serious. The insides were soft and lined with this blue fabric cushion, and the outside was sleek, stealthy and fit perfectly on your back. I actually saw one of these get thrown off a building! I had no idea that softcases like this ever existed. I wanted one so bad. But again, these were for the guitar majors right? I wasn’t a guitar major, at least not yet. But that was the motivation I needed to help push my practicing further. Silly as it sounds, I wanted to be considered good enough to carry one of those guitar cases around. It felt like a rite of passage to me.

    I practiced until I bled, 7-8 hours a day for almost a whole year. I auditioned for two music schools, and ended up enrolling at Berklee College of Music in 2013. The day I got my acceptance letter was the day I purchased my first Reunion Blues Continental Guitar Soft Case.

    I took it everywhere with me. It was my default guitar case for every reason. Since 2013, this gig bag has been to every rehearsal, every gig, every tour I’ve ever been to. With me, it has flown across the United States, to England, Spain, Italy, Romania, and even Greece. I still have it and use it to this day, and it has absolutely standed the test of time. I imagine I can get another decade out of it if not two.

    Also, here’s another pro tip: if you’re looking at getting one of these guitar cases, you don’t need to be “good enough” to get one. You already are. Absolutely get one; you will use it for decades.

    Double Your Carrying Power With RB Continental Voyager Series Double Guitar & Bass Cases From Reunion Blues

    Reunion Blues officially welcomes the arrival of the new RB Continental Voyager series Double Guitar & Bass Cases. When we “launched” the original RB Continental back in 2008 (literally, from the top of a three story building), we had no idea that we’d be the vanguard of a new era in protective cases that would transform the expectations of professional and hobbyist musicians worldwide. With the latest expansion of the RB Continental Voyager series, we’re excited to raise the bar yet again. 

    Beyond simply carrying 2 guitars or basses, RB Continental Voyager Double cases deliver the quality, durability and comfort that artists depend on for touring and gigging. Just like the single Voyager guitar models, all Voyager double cases include our shock-absorbing and impact-resistant Flexoskeleton™, now re-vamped with a more efficient internal structure for maximum protection while reducing weight and bulk dramatically. We’ve further articulated our Quadraweave™ exterior with a modern Black Heather texture that looks great and will provide years of durability. We’ve also re-designed the interior bracing system with a better reinforced locking neck block and user-configurable protector pads at the endpin for a perfect fit.

    RB Continental Voyager Double cases feature all of the great ergonomic features of the original RB Continental, along with some key improvements. Our Zero G™ handle is still the best in the industry (and often imitated poorly by our competition), but we’ve also added edge seams to improve longevity and durability. And for air travel, or even just getting around town, our adjustable, hideaway backpack is as comfortable as ever. 

    Our high standards for quality craftsmanship have been meticulously maintained, a process and a manufacturing ethos that we established back in the 1970s when we created the first professionally accepted gig bag. The use of industrial-grade high-tensile thread, reversed water-resistant zippers, abrasion and scuff resistant corded edges and seams, EVA backed material, and internally reinforced structure in high stress areas are just a few of the "under the hood" advantages that a Reunion Blues case provides. Best of all, we back this up with the peace of mind that comes from our industry leading limited lifetime warranty.

    Often imitated, but never equaled, RB Continental Voyager Double Guitar & Bass cases will protect your axes in style for years to come.


    Finding a Legitimate Music Lawyer, Pt. 4

    Once you have identified a lawyer with whom you’re interested in working, you can arrange for an interview. The interview will most likely take place in the lawyer’s office, or in some cases, an uncrowded public space where you can sort out...

    Read more....

    Finding a Legitimate Music Lawyer, Pt. 3

    Whether you’re searching for lawyers in person or online, research a few recent cases they have handled or clients with whom they have worked. Check their efficiency by reading reviews...

    Read more....

    Finding a Legitimate Music Lawyer, Pt. 2

    Deal shopping occurs when a lawyer or attorney approaches a record company and/or and music publisher in attempts to get a record or publishing deal for the artist they represent...

    Read more....

    Finding a Legitimate Music Lawyer, Pt. 1

    Any artist who starts putting out more and more material may require a lot of legal processing to protect their work from illegal use, including piracy or any form of altering to which the artist has not consented...

    Read more....

    Getting Out of a Creative Block (Tips and Tricks to Avoid and Erase a Creative Block)

    As artists, we all have our streaks and struggles, good days and bad days. But, every once in a while we face one of the most common, yet annoying and mind-boggling situations—a creative block...

    Read more....

    Becoming a Session Musician (What to Expect & How to be Ready For It)

    Session musicians dedicate their time to performing and arranging music for other artists, often collaborating with solo artists looking for a guitar, bass, drum or extra voice. Multiple session musicians can even form a small band just for the production of a single or a few songs for an album...

    Read more....

    The Importance of Studying Other Artists (What You Can Learn & Why It Matters)

    Every musician must forge their own path when it comes to understanding the business and how one fits into it. However, it can be very useful to study how other artists work, how they achieved success, and most importantly, how they make their art....

    Read more....