Controversy Continues Surrounding SESAC Proposal On Music Modernization Act

Posted: 4:40 PM, Jul 30, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-31 13:56:32-04
Controversy Continues Surrounding SESAC Proposal On Music Modernization Act

Artists and songwriters alike are speaking out against performing rights organization (PRO) SESAC after the group's parent company proposed an amendment to the Music Modernization Act (MMA) that could derail the bill. 

The MMA was in the works for years and reached it's final hurdle: a U.S. Senate floor vote. 

Prior to the vote, after it had already passed the House unanimously, SESAC's parent company Blackstone Group proposed an amendment that changes part of the bill. 

The MMA streamlines the way songwriters get paid through music licensing changes.

Blackstone Group, in addition to owning SESAC, owns The Harry Fox Agency, which is a company that deals with mechanical licensing. 

The MMA could impact The Harry Fox Agency's business by creating a Music Licensing Collective, which would be run by songwriters to distribute songwriting royalties, which is why many believe the owners of SESAC are proposing the last-minute change. 

SESAC posted that they believe their proposal will be beneficial to songwriters by creating more competition, and the group said that it had never given its support to the MMA as written. Their full statement can be found on their website.

The Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) was one of the groups that was at the core of creating the MMA, and they have said that SESAC's amendment would derail the bill. Their constant updates on the situation and an in-depth explanation of the issue can be found on their website

Through this all, one thing has been determined: It's a complex topic that many outside of the music business know little details about, but it impacts them. It impacts all people who listen to music, because it impacts the people who write the music.

Songwriting is a shrinking industry, with it getting harder to get paid under the more than 100-year-old laws that the MMA is working to change, making songwriters able to get paid more for their songs in this streaming-era. 

Because of that, many songwriters and artists alike have posted on social media about the issue, including Brothers Osborne, ACM Songwriter of the Year Lori McKenna, Maren Morris, Steven Tyler, and many others, including writers who are represented by SESAC. 

NSAI officials said they hoped the MMA would have been passed by the end of July, but with the proposal, they aren't sure whether the bill will be passed.

SESAC officials have said in statements that they hope to make people understand their amendment, and they hope to have the amended MMA passed by the end of the year.