SALT LAKE CITY — For years, Sen. Orrin Hatch has moonlighted as a songwriter, even penning a tune that found its way into a Hollywood movie soundtrack.
On Thursday, the 84-year-old Utah Republican stood next to the likes of Kid Rock, Beach Boys' Mike Love and "Soul Man" singer Sam Moore as President Donald Trump signed Hatch's bill to help songwriters get paid fair value for their songs.
"They’ve been working on this for years and years and years, and I guess certain entertainers have been taken advantage of for a long time, but no longer, because of Trump, can you believe it?" the president said before signing the Music Modernization Act in a ceremony at the White House.
Calling him a "legendary" senator, Trump recognized Hatch as an "accomplished musician and songwriter in his own right, which I heard, but I haven't heard his music. I'll let you know when I do."
Hatch has written dozens of songs, often with religious or patriotic themes. He wrote a love song for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy and his wife, Vickie, titled "Souls Along the Way." His lullaby “Little Angel of Mine" was used in the movie “Stuart Little 2.”
The senator even has a song written about him. Rock musician Frank Zappa recorded an instrumental on his 1988 album "Guitar" called "Orrin Hatch on Skis."
Hatch called the bill, which passed the House and Senate unanimously, the most important copyright legislation in a generation.
"It's going to renew the interest in music throughout the country and throughout the world," he said.
Hatch also used the occasion to praise Trump, saying, "you're making a real helluva difference in this country, it’s a good difference."
The law will improve the lives of songwriters, recording artists, producers, sound engineers and just about everyone who works in the music industry, the senator said.
The legislation updates music licensing laws to make it easier for songwriters to get paid when their music is streamed or purchased online. It ensures that songwriters are paid a fair market rate when their songs are played, and that recording artists and producers are fairly compensated for their work. It also revises outdated songwriter royalty standards.
According to Standard and Poor’s, there were 86 million paying subscribers to digital streaming services in 2016 who streamed music 252 billion times.
Revenues generated from online music accounted for half the music industry’s revenues in 2016. As digital streaming has increased in popularity, the number of individual song downloads and compact discs sold has fallen.
Between 2015 and 2016, individual song downloads dropped 24 percent, and CD sales fell below 100 million units, resulting in less royalties paid to songwriters.