Music Modernization Act: A Battle Won but the Fight is Still Going

By Abbey Shaffer // Instagram: @ab.shaffer

Streaming services are becoming more and more popular to use as a way for people to listen to music. Whether someone is listening on Spotify, Apple Music, or Sound Cloud doesn’t change that artists aren’t selling as much as they used to for CDs, vinyl’s, tapes, or even downloads. Streaming has proven itself to be a very convenient way for people to hear the music they love at a minimal cost.

Listening to music this way isn’t a problem either as the industry has found ways for artist to still receive some earned income from a number of streams. How this works is Spotify tracks how many times a song is played and pays the artist according to the Music Modernization Act (MMA) surrounding the topic. While this new way of listening is not a problem, there is still a major issue within the legislation itself. 

The listing price for one stream of music is barely anything and nothing compared to how much an artist would get from the purchase of a CD or even a paid download. Artists on Spotify specifically should expect somewhere around $7.50-$8.00 for 1,000 streams of one of their songs. That is not even half the price of how much one album cost and yet that is more than one album’s worth of streams. This isn’t fair to the artist and it is not sustainable for their lively hood either. 

The MMA that was passed in October of 2018 was a good way to have a stepping stone into the right direction of getting artist what they deserve. ASCAP’s admirable help with many artist backing the campaign was truly something to witness throughout our lives. This act was such a monumental point in our history as a legislative pice to be passed through office for rightsholders. However, it should not be expected to hold forever. While the current legislation was a battle to win, it is still a temporary shield for streaming services to hide behind. 

As 2020 continues to pass us by, we need to remember that artist deserve fair pay for their work and thus the amount per stream needs to be increased as they have rightfully earned. We need to remember that this act was not meant to be permanent but to have our foot in the door to a fair future for artist pay. 

Abbey Shaffer is currently studying Arts Management at the College of Charleston, with a concentration on the Music Industry. Shaffer intends to graduate from the College and kickstart her career within the music industry.

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