In a Congress that’s divided on most hot-button issues, the Music Modernization Act passed the Senate by unanimous consent last week after the House passed its version of the bill in April.
A co-sponsor of the bill, Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, told CNN he expects the House to approve the Senate’s version of the bill this week, though as of Sunday a vote on the House bill had not yet been scheduled. The House majority leader’s office declined to comment to CNN for this story. The bill’s supporters say the goal is for President Donald Trump to sign the bill into law by the start of October.
If passed, the Music Modernization Act would be the first overhaul to music copyright law in decades.
Another key aspect of the legislation is that it would create a separate entity, overseen by publishers and songwriters, ideally making it easier for them to be paid the royalties they say they’re owed when their songs are played on the internet. Digital music providers, like Spotify or Apple Music, will have the chance to obtain a blanket license, with the goal of stanching lawsuits over copyright infringement.
Hatch said in a statement last week that the bill is a “historic reform for our badly outdated music laws.”
“The Music Modernization Act provides a solution, and it does so in a way that brings together competing sides of the music industry and both sides of the political spectrum,” Hatch said.
“It’s just a matter of fairness and to keep these songs coming,” Alexander said.
But Alexander also got a “personal lesson on how little you get paid even for a song that gets published and recorded by a pretty well-known” artist.
The Tennessee senator, who can play the piano, has been receiving royalties for country artist Lee Brice’s 2010 song “Falling Apart Together,” about a couple trying to make ends meet. Alexander said he reported $136.75 in song royalties to the Senate Ethics Committee last year.
Before the bill was passed, the Senate renamed the bill the Orrin G. Hatch Music Modernization Act, honoring the Utah Republican. Alexander said Hatch, who is retiring from Congress at the end of his term in January, was “very moved” by the gesture.
“He said, ‘You didn’t have to do that, but I appreciate it very much,’” Alexander said.