Last Thursday, President Trump signed the Music Modernization Act into law, marking the end of a nearly year-long struggle in which songwriters and musicians rights groups repeatedly clashed with PROs and streaming services over the Act’s details. The Music Modernization Act is notable for its unanimous bipartisan support, and for many (including this writer), its signing will be remembered as the only positive action taken by Trump during his Presidency. Though the Act was introduced by staunch Republicans, Representative Bob Goodlatte and Senator Orrin Hatch, it will benefit all professional musicians and songwriters, and its signing was met with appreciation by the heads of several music corporations. Unfortunately, the signing event itself turned into a show of the partisanship and disorganization that has plagued this administration (as well as tying in rather nicely with this blog’s previous post on politics in the music industry).
Several people who were instrumental in the passage of the Music Modernization Act were actually disinvited from the ceremony. As Billboard notes, only a single woman, Senator Shelley Moore Capito was present, though many of the bill’s proponents, such as Dina LaPolt and Shelly Pieken, are women. Whether or not this lack of representation was an unfortunate coincidence or a reflection of President Trump’s long-documented misogyny, credit must be given to those advocates who, for whatever reason, could not attend the signing.
The musicians who actually did attend were longtime Trump loyalists, such as Kid Rock and the Beach Boys’ Mike Love. In his remarks, Love went quite off-message, praising Trump for supposedly “[trying his] best” to “help” the late singer Whitney Houston. His bizarre anecdote was overshadowed later by the tardy arrival of Kanye West, who engaged in a passionate monologue about aircraft innovation, Hillary Clinton, Superman, and Adidas (Kid Rock, apart from criticizing the journalists present for their coverage of Trump, kept his remarks mostly on point). West and Love did a disservice on Thursday by failing to acknowledge the victory that the Music Modernization Act represents to songwriters and musicians everywhere, and the effort that went into its passage.