Reflections and Recap on Ivors Week 2024

Reflections and Recap on Ivors Week 2024

DiMA President and CEO Graham Davies attended Ivors Week 2024, including making remarks at PRS Explores: Music Modernization Act – Five Years On.

As CEO of the Ivors Academy for the last five years, prior to joining DiMA in November last year, it was poignant for Davies to return to the UK to attend the awards now as a guest, representing DiMA’s members. Ivors Week provides a unique celebration of songwriting and songwriters but also provides for key industry leaders to connect while in London for the awards. PRS for Music seized on the opportunity to host Davies, David Israelite of the NMPA, and Kris Ahrend of The MLC, on a panel focused on the Music Modernization Act – Five Years On.

The event, sponsored by the UK Music Publishers’ Association and chaired by Paulette Long was timely, coming one week before public comments were due to the U.S. Copyright Office, which is undertaking its first redesignation review of the MMA-established Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC).

Davies took the opportunity to remind a packed room of UK music publishers of the Music Modernization Act’s vital importance to a functional – and thriving – US music market. He said: “The MMA remains critically important to DiMA’s members, and the entire music ecosystem. The law was intended to bring the mechanical licensing system into the digital era, and the blanket license that it established is central to that mission. Just over five years after being signed into law, the MMA is a positive step forward. More than two billion dollars in mechanical royalties have been distributed by the MLC, and the services have invested significant resources in the success of the new system. The MMA reflects the rare win-win: providing streaming services with certainty that was difficult, if not impossible, to obtain under the old system, while creating a central resource for publishers to claim ownership of their works and royalties they are due.”

Responding to questions about efforts to change the MMA, Davies said: “Rather than letting commercial disputes be used to dismantle this vital system, on which so much depends, energies should be put to the work still to be done to realize its goal — including ensuring a robust MLC redesignation process.”

Some of Davies’ other key points included:

  • The MMA remains landmark legislation and should be defended, not undermined.
  • Passage of the MMA was the result of all sides of the industry coming together to make the mechanical licensing system work effectively in the digital era.
  • Prior to the MMA, the industry faced uncertainty and litigation arising because of industry-wide structural gaps in the flow of songwriter and publisher data. This meant it was not possible for services to effectively identify and license the works needed to operate a streaming service. The prior system was bad for innovation, and for the entire industry.
  • The “grand bargain” of the MMA was an agreement to create a true blanket license that would replace the work-by-work system. It should be administered by a single collective funded by the DSPs themselves, to replace the pre-MMA work-by-work system.
  • In addition to more than $2 billion in US mechanical royalties paid through the MLC by the streaming services, services have also paid more than $160 million in funding for MLC operations to date.
  • Like any CMO, those who pay for the costs of operation expect to see plans for year-on-year improvements in efficiency and ways to reduce costs.
  • In this case, the services pay for the MLC but have no control over it. Given this funding and governance structure, the five-year redesignation process is also an important means of identifying what is working and what needs improvement.
  • As a Board member of the MLC and the Digital Licensee Coordinator, as well as the DLC’s representative on the MLC board, Davies said he was pleased that dialogue was starting around how the MLC can deliver on the investments made in its operations to drive increased future efficiency.
  • This has been a notable year for the MLC, including the fact that it has commenced two separate suits in federal court, squarely presenting the question regarding what should be regarded as day-to-day operational costs, and what are exceptional costs.
  • Oversight and governance of the MLC remain key issues.



Related Posts

  • MMA Five Years On: A Key Moment To Course-Correct For Future Success

  • DiMA Year in Review

  • The Music Modernization Act at 5 Years – Recap of the House Judiciary Committee Hearing