The Solution (To Music Royalty Payments) Is Less Government – Not More

Published June 9, 2018

Government damages and destroys everything it touches. Things afflicted with any sort of government warp and wither. At the very least, they are hampered from better bettering their situations.

The federal government is a $4-trillion-a-year nightmare mess. The Barack Obama Administration spent eight years endlessly expanding government – time and again to our national detriment.

Obamacare made everything health insurance demonstrably worse. Dodd-Frank made everything banking demonstrably worse. Obama’s mass expansion of the regulatory state made everything demonstrably worse.

Now-President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to roll back regulations and government of all sorts was so desired by the private sector, the stock market launched like a rocket the moment he won the election and hasn’t looked back.

Imagine an Evian air drop into the Sahara Desert. That was Trump’s election.

Ever since, we’ve watched the Administration roll back all sorts of government with, admittedly, a few bigger-government-clunkers along the way.

Most unfortunately, the Republican-controlled Congress…hasn’t been quite as vociferous with the less government agenda.

Trump is blamed by some for the latest awful budget, but it’s still Congress who writes it. And only Trump expressed any sort of anger at its awfulness.

And Congress is again about to expand government even further into an economic sector it has already been screwing up for decades.

Behold the bizarre, government-controlled world of music royalties.

CRB Sets Rates for Public Performance Royalties for Noncommercial Broadcast Stations for Over-the-Air Broadcasting: “The Copyright Royalty Board on Friday published in the Federal Register its decision setting the royalty rates that noncommercial broadcasters will pay to the performing rights organizations for the public performance of musical compositions in over-the-air broadcasting during the period 2018-2022.”

Well that’s just stupid.

It Is Time To Completely Rethink How Songwriters Get Paid

Indeed it is. We need to get the government completely out of it, and let the various private sector players negotiate terms.

Unfortunately, that’s not the direction Congress is considering taking us. Not only are they not “completely rethink(ing) how how songwriters get paid” and removing government from the equation – they are actually expanding government’s role.

Music Modernization Act (MMA) Unanimously Passes US House of Representatives

Music Modernization Act Proposes Single Solution to Mechanical Licensing Problem

And therein lies the problem. That alleged “single solution” is an even-more-government solution.

Currently, multiple private companies collect the how-much-each-song-was-played data that determines the royalties paid to the artists:

“Right now, two companies serve this function for several major digital music services: HFA and MRI. (Apple Music, in a ‘belt and suspenders’ approach, uses both of them.) Google acquired another company, RightsFlow, to act as its own mechanical licensing agency for YouTube and Google Play Music. Newer companies like Audiam and Loudr are in the same business; and various startups are offering partial solutions to the mechanical licensing problem based on blockchain technology.”

This bill kills this sector of the marketplace. Subjecting everyone to a government-created non-profit entity that does the work the multi-member private sector had done:

“The licensing collective will be an independent not-for-profit organization selected by the U.S. Copyright Office….(M)any companies take on this crucial and monumental task as a for-profit business opportunity; there’s competition and innovation in the market. The MMA could put these companies out of business.”

It almost certainly would. Just as we have seen with private health insurance, Obamacare, and Obamacare’s non-profit co-ops.

ObamaCare Just Killed My Health Insurance – Again

Many ObamaCare Customers Down to One Provider


Obamacare Is A Disaster: Co-Op Insurers Across America Are Collapsing, And Now There Is Fraud

To do anything remotely resembling Obamacare to the music industry is…unwise.

To do anything that expands even further government’s role in music royalty disbursement is…unwise.

We at Less Government have expressed our support for MMA. Because on balance it improves – if only slightly – the current music royalties situation.

But this non-profit idea is awful.

Removing it from the bill would make the bill better.

The Senate should do exactly that.

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