House Passes Digital Music Licensing Package

Bills head to Senate accompanied by applause from stakeholders

The House has unanimously passed the Music Modernization Act, a compromise bill that creates a framework for better compensating artists for digital plays of their music and making it easier for music rights organizations to collect those fees from distributors of streamed music like Pandora and Spotify, as they do from traditional plays on TV and radio.

The bill has been billed as the most significant change in music licensing laws in decades, and drew praise from a chorus of stakeholders. It now heads to the Senate, where it is also expected to pass.

It actually incorporates a trio of bills. The base Modernization Act creates a single licensing entity for reproduction rights for digital uses, like those of Spotify, Pandora, Google, Apple and Amazon. It also randomly assigns judges to preside over ASCAP and BMI rate-setting cases, according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

The package also includes The CLASSICS (Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, and Important Contributions to Society) Act which compensates artists for pre-1972 recordings, which had previously not been eligible for digital royalties.

Then there was the AMP (Allocation for Music Producer) Act, which allows for direct payment of royalties to music producers and engineers.

“NAB applauds the House passage of the Music Modernization Act, which provides a consensus solution to music licensing issues facing songwriters, music publishers, and on-demand streaming services,” said National Association of Broadcasters President Gordon Smith…. “We look forward to working with lawmakers in the Senate to advance this important legislation.”

“With this unanimous vote, we are one step closer to a once-in-a-generation reform of our music licensing laws,” said RIAA in a statement. “It’s a long time coming and we have much work to do, but the breadth and depth of unprecedented legislative support demonstrated over the last two weeks is illustrative. It is the result of a broken system that poorly serves creators and years of painstaking consensus-building by a many key members of Congress. This bill has advanced as far it has because its component parts reflect reforms of the entire music ecosystem. That is an essential ingredient.”

“This is an historic day for music creators,” said MusicFIRST Executive Director Chris Israel. “An overwhelming majority of Republicans and Democrats voted to bring U.S. music licensing into the 21st century and deliver justice for legacy music creators.”

“Today’s passage of the Music Modernization Act by such a significant margin underscores the widespread consensus that our music licensing system needs immediate updating,” said ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews. “After years of advocating for reform, we are thrilled that our country’s leaders are now paving the way for a brighter future for music creators who have struggled under outdated laws for far too long.

“[T]he Music Modernization Act will ensure fans and artists can take full advantage of streaming to create, discover and enjoy music and that we continue streaming forward into the future,” said Chris Harrison, CEO of the Digital Media Association, which represents Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Napster, Pandora and Spotify. “As the Senate considers the MMA, we look forward to working with Senators Hatch (R-UT), Whitehouse (D-RI), Alexander (R-TN) and Coons (D-DE) to make sure it successfully passes the Senate and gets signed into law.”

“The House passage of the Music Modernization Act is truly historic for songwriters and the entire music ecosystem which they fuel,” said David Israelite, president of the National Music Publishers Association. “The MMA improves how songwriters are paid and how their work is valued, both of which are long overdue. The bill also helps digital streaming companies by giving them access to all the music their consumers want to enjoy.”

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Finland Lifts Ad Limits on Commercial Radio

Stations never reached the now-dropped 20 percent limit

HELSINKI — As of June 2018, commercial Finnish radio stations will be allowed to broadcast as much advertising as they want. This is because Finland’s broadcast regulator, the Ministry of Transport and Communication, will be lifting the current “20 percent limit.”

Under this rule, commercial Finnish radio stations can devote no more than 20 percent of their on-air time to radio ads.

 Stefan Möller is CEO of RadioMedia Finland.   

Officially, “The ministry says that the objective of the new more liberalized rules is to improve radio stations’ earnings ability and give them more leeway in terms of content placement,” said the Finnish news site yle.fi, which is operated by the Finnish national public broadcaster, Yleisradio. “The legal reform is part of a government-led drive to dismantle operational norms in several areas.”

Unofficially, “the real reason that Finland is dropping the 20 percent limit on commercial radio advertising is that no one ever hit that limit, since it was raised from 10 percent in 2015,” said Stefan Möller. He is CEO of RadioMedia Finland, the country’s commercial radio lobbying/marketing association. “As a result, there is no point in the government paying staff to monitor a rule that no one has any intention of breaking.”

When it comes to the mix of music, talk, and advertising on Finnish commercial radio, Möller estimates that the average amount of airtime currently devoted to ads is an average of 15 percent per station. The reason for the restraint is self-interest: With RadioMedia’s CEO estimating that there are about 25 radio stations per market for Finns to choose from nationwide, the key to success is “not to annoy your listeners,” he said.

“Too many commercials per block, and your listeners will go elsewhere, even if the ads are only 10 seconds in length each,” said Möller. “This is because too many ads provides listeners with too much conflicting content. When this happens, Finns will tune away to other stations with fewer ads to listen to.”

[Read: Dial Report and Ad-ID Seek to Standardize Radio Spot Tracking]

Losing listeners matters in Finland, because the average listener is a devoted person who tunes to radio up to three hours daily. They also tend to tune “to 1.6 stations a day, and no more than 2.9 stations a week,” said Möller.

On the good side, Finns who like a particular radio station tend to be loyal to it. On the bad side, listeners who are alienated by too much radio advertising — “or too much of anything, for that matter,” Möller said — will go away and stay away.

Given these facts, Finnish commercial radio is self-regulating its percentage of on-air commercials, eliminating the government’s need to do so. “To play too much advertising is bad for any radio station’s business,” concluded Möller. “Finnish commercial radio stations don’t do this, because the people who run them are not stupid.”

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FCC Releases Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Small Satellites

The FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on April 17, seeking comment on proposals to streamline its rules regarding the deployment of “small satellites.” This would include small spacecraft put into orbit for Amateur Radio purposes, as well as small satellites launched by non-Amateur Radio entities, such as universities, but using Amateur Radio spectrum. The NPRM primarily addre…

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FCC Releases Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Small Satellites

ARRL –

The FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on April 17, seeking comment on proposals to streamline its rules regarding the deployment of “small satellites.” This would include small spacecraft put into orbit for Amateur Radio purposes, as well as small satellites launched by non-Amateur Radio entities, such as universities, but using Amateur Radio spectrum. The NPRM primarily addre…

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Annual Armed Forces Day Crossband Communication Test Set for Saturday, May 12

The Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) will sponsor the traditional military/amateur radio communication tests to mark the 67th annual Armed Forces Day (AFD) on Saturday, May 12. Armed Forces Day is May 19, but the AFD Crossband Military-Amateur Radio event traditionally takes place 1 week earlier in order to avoid conflicting with Hamvention. Complete information, including military statio…

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Annual Armed Forces Day Crossband Communication Test Set for Saturday, May 12

ARRL –

The Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) will sponsor the traditional military/amateur radio communication tests to mark the 67th annual Armed Forces Day (AFD) on Saturday, May 12. Armed Forces Day is May 19, but the AFD Crossband Military-Amateur Radio event traditionally takes place 1 week earlier in order to avoid conflicting with Hamvention. Complete information, including military statio…

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New ARRL Santa Barbara Section Manager Starts Early

The new Santa Barbara Section Manager John Kitchens, NS6X, of Somis, California, is getting a head start, stepping into the job a couple of months earlier than the scheduled date. No nominations for the post were received by the nomination deadline last September, and nominations were resolicited for an 18-month term starting on July 1.

Kitchens, the only nominee, was declared elected, succeedin…

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