Special to Roll Call:
By Mike Montgomery
The Senate Judiciary Committee recently held what should be considered an historic hearing to discuss the competitive landscape surrounding music licensing; not just the age old fight about how to divide the royalties, but to examine whether competition in the music space is healthy enough to allow new entrants — such as Pandora and iHeart — to continue to innovate and delight consumers.
In his opening statement, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., said the committee needs to work toward ensuring fair compensation for artists while also ensuring that new music streaming companies can thrive. And that brought to the fore the 65-year-old antitrust consent decrees that dictate how music license rights are handled in the U.S.
Leahy’s goal isn’t ambitious — it’s logical. But it won’t be met if music labels and the organizations that represent songwriters and publishers get their way, because any modification of the consent decrees would threaten the existence of companies such as Spotify.