Legislation Backed by Collins, King to Support Songwriters Signed into Law

The Music Modernization Act, co-sponsored by Sens. Collins and King, will ensure that artists receive fair royalties in the age of internet streaming services

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Senator Angus King (I-Maine) applauded the President’s signing of The Music Modernization Act, a bipartisan bill which will ensure songwriters are paid fair value for their songs. The legislation will set up a new simplified licensing entity to make it easier for digital music companies to obtain a license to play songs, and help songwriters be paid a fair market value for their music.


“My mother started me with piano lessons at age four, and from that young age, I cultivated a life-long appreciation for music – and its value in our society,” said Senator Collins. “Through their artistry, America’s talented songwriters and music producers bring people together, enhance our culture, and strengthen our communities. This bipartisan legislation will provide a much needed update to our music and copyright laws and help ensure that these artists receive fair compensation for their inspiring creations.”


“America’s talented songwriters provide the soundtrack to our daily lives, and in doing so, inspire countless people across the country and around the world,” said Senator King. “I know that I’m not alone when I say that my life has been improved by the work of Maine musicians, who share the sound of our state at weekend festivals throughout the summer and via streaming services year-round. This bipartisan legislation will make sure that their compensation is ‘in tune’ with their immense contributions to our culture, and allow them to continue to strike a chord with fans worldwide.”


The Music Modernization Act updates outdated music licensing laws to make it easier for songwriters to be paid when their music is played online by a digital streaming service, or purchased online. According to Standard and Poor’s, there were 86 million paying subscribers to digital streaming services, who streamed music 252 billion times in 2016. Revenues generated from online music account for half of the music industry’s revenues in 2016. As digital music streaming increases, the number of individual song downloads fell 24 percent between 2015 and 2016 and compact disc sales fell below 100 million units sold – which means less royalties paid to songwriters. The Music Modernization Act seeks to remedy this effect and ensure that songwriters will be paid fair-market value for their songs by:


  • Adopting a simple licensing system for digital music services making it easier for companies to obtain a license to play a song and reducing the likelihood of litigation.
  • Directing the Copyright Royalty Board to set compensation according to the fair market value when songs are sold, such as through music downloads, replacing the current below-market standard.
  • Removing a provision of law that narrows the scope of evidence the federal rate court may examine when asked to set songwriter compensation for when their song is played, such as in a restaurant or at a concert. 


The legislation was supported by the Recording Academy, National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), the Digital Media Association (DiMA), the American Society for Composers, Authors and Publishers, (ASCAP) the Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) and the Songwriters of North America (SONA). Additional supporters include the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the American Federation of Musicians.