Have you ever wondered how technology and streaming services have changed the music business? One thing is for certain, the landscape has changed significantly over the past decade.
In 2018, Congress passed the Music Modernization Act, which makes it easier for songwriters, music publishers, legacy artists, and producers to get paid for certain uses of their work. In this post, we will introduce you to Holland Gormley, who is helping to educate the music industry about this important law.
Holland Gormley is a public affairs specialist with the Copyright Office at the Library of Congress. Her portfolio includes the important and rewarding job of managing education and outreach initiatives for the Music Modernization Act of 2018, or MMA for short.
Holland’s love for the arts stretches back to childhood. Her family is made up of artists and makers and she saw firsthand the challenges that come with a career in a creative field. “I always knew that I wanted my work to support artists,” Holland shared. “It’s a tough job, but they hold such an important role in creating our communal culture and history.”
Holland set out to do just that. When she started her job with the Copyright Office, the MMA had just passed. Holland immediately asked her supervisor if she could be part of the education and outreach to the music community. She knew helping the music community understand this new law was something she needed to work on.
A shift in technology, the introduction and evolution of streaming services, gaps in the protection and compensation structure for songwriters and music publishers, and a lack of protection for legacy artists created a need for the Music Modernization Act. The Act is broken down into three parts, called titles:
Title I—the Musical Works Modernization Act establishes a blanket licensing system for interactive music streaming and digital downloads and establishes a licensing collective (The MLC, a nonprofit entity designated by the Copyright Office) to collect and distribute royalties for those uses paid by digital music services.
Title II—the Classics Protection and Access Act brings “pre-1972” sound recordings, which were previously not protected by the Copyright Act, partially into the federal copyright system, by providing federal remedies for unauthorized use of those sound recordings and bringing those works into the statutory licensing system.
Title III—the Allocation for Music Producers Act codifies a process for music producers, sound mixers, and sound engineers to receive certain statutory royalties for their contributions to sound recordings.
Together, the three titles of the MMA constitute one of the most important pieces of copyright legislation in decades. Congress agreed; the MMA was passed unanimously.
Holland and the Copyright Office target their educational outreach efforts to songwriters, music industry students and professionals, and the entertainment law community to help the music ecosystem better understand how the new law changes royalty flows.
In her role, Holland uses a multichannel messaging approach to reach her audience multiple times, so that the information sticks. Her approach includes creating educational materials that are available on copyright.gov, posting on social media, events, and developing educational partnerships.
The most important message Holland is tasked with communicating is the need for independent (aka “DIY” or “self-published”) songwriters to register with The MLC so that they can receive royalties paid to The MLC by digital music services. The MLC has already distributed over $100 million in royalties since it first started in April 2021. But in order to make those payments, the MLC needs to match usage information to ownership information. In other words, The MLC needs to know who to pay and how to pay them. That’s why songwriters and music publishers must register with The MLC. This is what makes Holland’s role so fulfilling. Every songwriter she educates about the MMA is one more who can reap the benefits of what the new law offers.
“I really love my job,” Holland expressed. “I know the work I do will be used by communities I deeply respect and admire, and that’s so rewarding. I hope that throughout my career, my work continues to help creators and artists understand how to protect their work no matter their medium or practice.”
Through Holland’s hard work and dedication, the music community is able to understand the MMA and how it impacts them. Most importantly, Holland is helping a community of artists navigate through an important transitional period for their industry and fulfilling her own dream of supporting artists and their work.