Music publishers weigh in on digital royalties


Digital DownloadsDavid Israelite, president and CEO, National Music Publishers’ Association, contributed a blog post to The Hill opposing the Internet Radio Fairness Act. He says it isn’t fair at all, but adds that competing elements of the music industry need to come together.

Israelite believes that a hearing on the bill, originally introduced by Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) will be held soon.

Stating his belief that the measure is not fair at all, he wrote, “Pandora, a vocal supporter of the legislation, alleges unfairness because they pay songwriters, music publishers and record labels differently than satellite or broadcast radio. Yet Pandora and companies like it have created a business model based entirely on the creative contributions of songwriters and the related artist recordings.”

Israelite believes that the deeper concern about the bill is that it completely undermines the value of music. Part of the problem lies in the multiple copyrights that can be attached to a given piece of music on the publishing side and the recording side.

He noted that the two copyright holders have historically competed with one another to get the biggest slice of the royalty pie. That is changing – and to keep matters moving in the right direction, both music publishers and recording companies need to stand together in opposition to IRFA, he said.

He calls the new cooperative approach One Music – a concept in which the music industry works together for the good of all musicians, and said that the IRFA battle is a test of its effectiveness. The goal is for publishers and recording companies to be paid under the same standard, a goal he says each group needs to support.

RBR-TVBR observation: IRFA does not include any mention of broadcast radio, and for what it’s worth, neither does the Israelite blog post. On one level, this is yet more smoke rising from IRFA, and the more smoke we see, the more we can be sure that a hearing is imminent. Once the ball gets rolling, all kinds of things can happen.

It is very good that broadcast is not at all involved in this bill, and it is further a good sign that IRFA is the bill getting all the attention, not the competing bill from Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) which does go directly after broadcast.

Of course, the Nadler measure could come into play at some point; further, it will be interesting to see if broadcast comes front and center once IRFA is dispensed with one way or the other. At the very least, if IRFA consumes all the legislative energy that is there to be invested on the royalty topic on Capitol Hill, it buys broadcasters time. Stay tuned.