Paul McCartney, Kim Gordon, Katy Perry, and More Agree to Boycott Sirius XM Over Music Modernization Act
In January, a bipartisan group of senators introduced the Music Modernization Act, designed to modernize copyright laws to adjust to modern streaming and downloading culture. The act is intended to serve songwriters, artists, and publishers, making royalty payments fairer and easier to secure. With the bill expected to pass through the Senate unopposed today (after already passing the Senate Judiciary Committee and House of Representatives earlier this year with unanimous votes), a group of musicians including Paul McCartney, Stevie Nicks, Katy Perry, Kim Gordon, Karen O, Sia, Carly Simon, Gloria Estefan, Mick Fleetwood, Don Henley, Max Martin, Joey Santiago (The Pixies), Pink, Alessia Cara, and Charlie Puth have signed a open letter vowing to boycott an entity that has voiced resistance to the Music Modernization Act: SiriusXM.
SiriusXM has objected to provisions in the bill that force the satellite radio company to pay royalties on pre-1972 recordings, which was previously not one of their responsibilities. They argue that the Act specifically benefits their terrestrial radio competitors. An attorney supporting the MMA wrote to Variety, calling SiriusXM’s “unwillingness to support songwriters and artists [a] complete travesty given that every other group in the music industry has endorsed the bill. This shows their disgusting corporate greed at the expense of America’s greatest treasures..…. our legacy artists.”
Songwriter and podcast host Ross Golan penned the group of musicians’ open letter, writing to the satellite radio company: “As you are aware, 415 Representatives and 76 Senators have already cosponsored the MMA along with industry consensus. It’s SiriusXM vs all of us. We can either fight to the bitter end or celebrate this victory together….Momentum is building against SiriusXM and you still have an opportunity to come out on the right side of history.”
Today, Sirius responded to the petition, calling the criticism directed at them by MMA’s supporters “stinging attacks,” and explaining that they were only advocating for “three simple amendments” to the act. These include requests that the rights they have already paid to use pre-1972 recordings be honored without further charge and that the ’90s-approved 801(b) standard of rate setting in copyright law be upheld. The third point of contention is phrased as a question in their statement: “‘Why are we changing the rate court evidence standard for musical compositions in this legislation so that it gives another advantage to broadcasters over satellite radio and streaming services?'”