About a month ago, the Senate passed the Music Modernization Act, a piece of legislation meant to update the way royalties work for musicians and songwriters, and Donald Trump signed it into law today alongside the biggest/only music superstars he could rope in, including Mike Love, Craig Morgan, John Rich, Doobie Brothers guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, and future White House chief of staff Robert “Kid Rock” Ritchie. Of course, Trump is Trump, so he could’ve had John Lennon on hand and we still wouldn’t be impressed, so let’s just talk about what the Music Modernization Act actually does.
The basic idea is that the new law makes it easier for musicians and songwriters to get paid from digital streams, with Trump naturally making it all about himself by noting (via Billboard), “I’ve been reading about this for many years and never thought I’d be involved in it, but I got involved in it.” He says musicians “were treated very unfairly,” but “they’re not going to be treated unfairly anymore.” We’re not going to pretend that the politicians who actually put this legislation together work hard, but it is very on-brand for Trump to build himself up as a hero to artists just for managing not to fuck up while writing his name.
Anyway, in more specific terms (via Rolling Stone), the Music Modernization Act will ensure that songwriters and musicians receive royalties on songs recorded before 1972, that some royalties go to producers (making this the first time producers have been acknowledged in copyright law), and that streaming services will have to pay music rights-holders “in a more streamlined fashion.” On that last point, Rolling Stone says “an independent entity” will be established to oversee this, which sounds like a fun headache.
In the end, the main point of this is that people who make music will now get paid more for the music they make (also, Trump still sucks).