President Trump signs into law Coons, Kennedy bill to ensure musical artists are compensated for pre-1972 recordings when Americans stream their music

WASHINGTON – Today, President Trump signed into law the CLASSICS Act, introduced by a bipartisan group of senators led by U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and John Kennedy (R-Louis.), that will ensure that recording artists from the pre-1972 music eras are fairly compensated when their music is played digitally. A new provision will allow libraries and archives to make reproductions of recordings from this era that are not being commercially exploited to ensure that there are no barriers to preserving and protecting America’s early musical legacy. The legislation was incorporated as Title II, the Classics Protection and Access Act, of the Orrin G. Hatch-Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act.

For historical reasons, sound recordings made before February 15, 1972 are governed by state, not federal, law. And, in recent years, this oddity has led to disputes as to the scope of state law rights when sound recordings are performed by digital music services. The CLASSICS Act will correct that oddity by bringing those pre-1972 sound recordings into the federal system, thus requiring that allowing the artists and owners of such recordings are fairly compensated when their music is digitally transmitted.  

In addition to Coons and Kennedy, the CLASSICS Act is co-sponsored by Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.). 

“The music performed and recorded by artists before February 15, 1972 is an important part of our shared cultural heritage.  It’s the music many of us listened to growing up on records and cassettes, and it simply is not fair that when we listen to that music today on digital platforms, those legacy artists do not have to be compensated even though their modern counterparts must,” said Senator Coons.  “I’m extremely pleased that the President signed this legislation to fix this long-standing disparity, and I thank the many different segments of the music industry that have worked hard to achieve this consensus solution.” 

“Artists who made music prior to 1972 are getting a raw financial deal because of an antiquated loophole in our legal system.  Our bill, the CLASSICS Act, will give the recognition and compensation these artists deserve,” said Senator Kennedy“Louisiana is the birthplace of jazz.  Artists who contributed to that uniquely New Orleans sound are pioneers who deserve the same copyright protections as everyone else. I will add that, in my opinion, music made after 1972, with the exception of Meatloaf’s work, isn’t as good as the classics anyway.”

The CLASSICS Act is supported by the American Association of Independent Music, the Recording Industry Association of America, Pandora, musicFIRST, the Internet Association, the Recording Academy, SoundExchange, Screen Actors Guild, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, American Federation of Musicians, the Content Creators Coalition, the Future of Music Coalition, the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, and the Living Legends Foundation.  


Press Contact

Sean Coit at 202-224-5042 or Sean_Coit@coons.senate.gov