While much of the entertainment world was focused on the meeting on Thursday between President Donald Trump and rapper Kanye West, an important piece of legislation was also signed by the chief executive. This legislation seeks to make it easier for songwriters — and other artists in the music industry — to collect royalties on songs that they produced in the digital age.
Musicians like Mike Love, Kid Rock, John Rich, and Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, among others, were at the White House to witness Trump signing H.R. 1551, the “Orrin G. Hatch-Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act” — or MMA for short.
The law seeks to do three key things, according to reporting from Rolling Stone. First, it ensures that songwriters and other artists are able to receive royalties on songs recorded before 1972. Second, it allocates a certain percentage of royalties for music producers. And finally, it updates the rules for royalties and payments to artists in the digital age — in short, making it possible for musicians to collect royalties in the age of streaming music services.
More specifically, the law also creates a “formalized body,” administered by music publishers, that functions to license compositions streamed on digital services like Spotify or Apple Music, according to Billboard. This “third party” entity will effectively make it easier for artists to get paid for the music that they create — if it gets streamed online.
After he signed the bill into law, Trump asked Kid Rock directly what his opinion on the legislation was.
“You like this legislation or do you hate it?” Trump asked.
“I like it,” the singer responded.
After the tireless efforts of so many songwriters, publishers, musicians, artists, producers and industry advocates the #MusicModernizationAct has been signed into law! #StandWithSongwriters https://t.co/ygWfJQEdQs
— Royalty Exchange (@royaltyexchange) October 11, 2018
Kid Rock elaborated on his feelings of the law.
“Everybody knows this business of music is a very dirty business. There’s a lot more that needs to be done here. We need to go after the record labels next, and things like free goods. But this is a great start to protect songwriters, producers, engineers — the unsung heroes behind many of these songs that go out there. People like myself who are maybe more at the top of the food chain, it really doesn’t affect as much. But I know many people it does affect.”
After the signing, rap artist Kanye West spoke with the president. During his meeting with Trump, West spoke to myriad topics beyond the music industry, and made mention of the need for prison reform and the need of additional resources for mental health in the United States, CNN reports.
West did not attend the signing ceremony of the MMA.