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Music laws have been written in a way that places songwriters at a deep disadvantage today in the technological age. At least, that is what Erik Maxwell, author of MODERNIZATION OF MUSIC, believes. Maxwell has set out to introduce and disseminate complex music laws for both lovers and creators of music.
Maxwell set out to make the tough topic of music law more accessible to everyday readers, especially songwriters. The way laws are written today excludes people from understanding them, which amounts to a troubling contradiction. The only people who end up benefiting from such laws are those who can afford armies of lawyers to make sense of them.
Music laws need a complete overhaul, according to Maxwell. Songwriters, especially in Los Angeles, Nashville, and other music hubs, are getting taken advantage of, which he sees as an unforgivable tragedy. Because music is so deeply rooted within our culture, threatening the quality of its artistry with outdated laws is a serious injustice. Maxwell sees the advent of the Music Modernization Act as a step in a positive direction.
Ultimately, songwriters need to get paid what they deserve. Anything less than a decent living wage is not enough. Given how much music has molded and shaped culture, to say little of its therapeutic value, it is imperative to protect those who dedicate their lives to creating it.
As Maxwell writes, “Songwriters are the farmers of the music industry. As such, their job is to cultivate a product that’s then repackaged and brought to your (turn)table. But without the farmer, we would starve. And without the songwriter, our ears would wither like so much unirrigated corn. Music is therefore more than the soundtrack to our lives¾it is our lives.”
Every song is a story. Songwriters need to be able to support themselves enough so that they can continue creating music and so that we can keep enjoying it. With so many songwriters leaving the industry these days, drastic action needs to be taken. “We need to help secure these songwriters and help them get paid fairly,” says Maxwell. “Music unites us all, no matter who you are.”
Maxwell does not see his book as being political. It is simply about making a change. People, coming from all different types of backgrounds, can come together through the power of music to escape the woes that life sometimes throws our way. It is a universal interest that has no boundaries—the very glue of humanity.
By combining art and a story spanning over 100 years, including interviews from top music professionals and politicians, Maxwell has crafted a book that can be understood and enjoyed by everyone, while also instigating real and much-needed change. He sees this project as a catalyst for positive reflections of time and music, and it looks like he may have accomplished just that.
As Maxwell further writes, “In these times of social distancing during COVID-19, we owe it to ourselves to use music as a force of harmony rather than division.” Looking through a positive lens, MODERNIZATION OF MUSIC helps us remember what is most important in life.
MODERNIZATION OF MUSIC is available here.