David Israelite in FORBES: Regulations Are Killing The Songwriting Stars

March 18th, 2016 by admin


David Israelite
Mr. Israelite is president and CEO of the National Music Publishers’ Association.

Today, songwriters are the most heavily regulated part of the music industry. A stunning 75% of their income is controlled by the federal government. This started more than 100 years ago, when in 1909, the sale of copies of compositions were put under a compulsory license—meaning anyone could use them, for a government-mandated rate. At that time, the rate was two cents. Now it is only nine cents. Adjusted for inflation it should be 50 cents today. This is the result of government interference.

As if this weren’t bad enough, around WWII the main non-profit organizations that license songs and distribute royalties to songwriters, ASCAP and BMI, were dealt a massive blow by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in the form of forced regulations called consent decrees. The reason these companies, called Performing Rights Organizations, exist primarily is efficiency. They issue licenses to millions of businesses like bars, restaurants and stadiums to play music and then they track when that music is played. To do this on a nationwide scale without such collective organizations would be extremely difficult. However, for them to function efficiently, they naturally must represent thousands of songwriters.

Around the 1940s, the people who wanted to use the music they license thought ASCAP & BMI were getting too big, but make no mistake, they certainly did not want to lose them. The result was the tying of these organizations hands through consent decrees—forever preventing songwriters and music publishers from selling their work in a truly free market.

Consent decrees have devastated the songwriting market

Today, many decades later, these consent decrees have devastated the songwriting market. Songwriters make so little from digital streaming services like Spotify that some artists like Taylor Swift have pulled their music from them altogether in protest. Meanwhile the “underdog” companies like Google who need DOJ to “protect” them from songwriters and are lobbying DOJ to keep the consent decrees in place, continue to benefit from below-market royalty rates.

Finally, with the advent of the Digital Age, the DOJ has acknowledged that the market cannot continue down this path, and has opened a formal review of the regulations governing ASCAP, BMI and the thousands of publishers and songwriters they represent.

Music publishers want the government out of its business

Songwriters hope this review will allow them to license some of their work in a free market—something all other property owners are allowed to do. Music publishers, their PROs and songwriters can no longer accept the depressed rates that result from the consent decrees, or the craft of songwriting and the songwriters themselves will continue to suffer dramatically, until there are fewer and fewer songs to enjoy.

Some articles, such as Forbes contributor Christopher Versace’s recent piece “Music Publishers Are Once Again Looking For Government Favors,” mislead people into thinking that music publishers are looking for anything other than to get the government out of its business. If government must interfere, then publishers would like an update in the regulations that were promulgated before the Internet, iPhones, satellite radio and even space travel.

The piece also claims that organizations like ASCAP and BMI “manipulate” the market. But how can they when the PROs required to license the songs they represent upon request have no ability to negotiate rates and royalties often set by a court?

Who really has the money to influence Washington?

Huge tech companies would love to paint music publishers as power-wielding giants, but the reality is the entire publishing industry is worth around $2 billion annually, while Spotify alone was recently valued at over $8 billion. Or take the largest online music site, YouTube, which is valued at over $70 billion. (Don’t forget that it’s owned by Google, who spent almost $17 million in 2014 just on lobbying.) It seems absurd to insinuate that music publishers and songwriters could possibly have more influence in Washington than some of the largest companies in the world.

Meanwhile, hardworking songwriters fuel the entire music industry while suffering under WWI and WWII-era laws and regulations. There’s a window for hope, however, and much of it rests on the Department of Justice’s willingness to relax the 70-year old shackle of the PRO consent decrees, finally allowing ASCAP and BMI to license music creators’ songs in a free market by allowing music publishers and songwriters to withdraw certain rights from these PROs to negotiate directly with digital companies like Pandora. Of course digital companies oppose this—they are the happy beneficiaries of policies made before the transistor radio was invented.

Everyone who wants to use music wants to do so as cheaply as possible, but the government cannot continue to subsidize companies with combined valuations in the hundreds of billions of dollars at the expense of songwriters. Ultimately, if we want music to continue to be made, the federal government must stop punishing those who make it.

The National Music Publishers’ Association is the trade association representing all American music publishers and their songwriting partners.



Billboard Talks NMPA/Spotify Settlement

March 18th, 2016 by admin

To read story on billboard click here

Conservative Groups Write Congress to Support Songwriters’ Freedom

March 2nd, 2016 by admin

Six signatories tell the Judiciary Committee to get government out of regulating songwriters’ royalties

For Immediate Release: March 2, 2016
Media Contact: Charlotte Sellmyer

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Six influential conservative groups have sent a letter to members of the House Judiciary Committee urging them to reduce the burdensome government regulations that currently prevent songwriters from earning a fair wage in a free market.

The letter, which was signed by the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, American Commitment, Center for Individual Freedom, Less Government, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council and the Taxpayers Protection Alliance outlines how outdated and excessive laws and regulations have culminated in an environment that hurts the very individuals who fuel the music marketplace.

National Music Publishers’ Association President and CEO David Israelite praised the letter, saying, “Today songwriting is the most regulated part of the music industry. It makes no sense that in this day and age, the creators behind our favorite songs are constrained by centuries old laws and WWII-era regulations. Each songwriter is a small business owner who deserves to be able to negotiate the value of their intellectual property as other property owners can – in a free market – and I am pleased that these groups recognize that for music to continue to be made, our copyright system has to stop punishing those who make it.”

The full text of the letter is below, and can be found here: http://ccagw.org/legislative-affairs/letters-officials/coalition-group-urges-support-hr-1283-songwriter-equity-act

March 1, 2016

Dear Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers:

As organizations that value the important role of music and its creators, we urge the committee to liberate songwriters from excessive government regulation, and allow them to negotiate royalty rates in a free market.

Under today’s music licensing system, 75 percent of a songwriter’s income is subject to outdated laws and regulations that trivialize the value of their intellectual property.  When records, CDs, and downloaded or on-demand streamed songs are sold today, songwriter royalties are set by a compulsory license system that Congress created in 1909 in an attempt to promote competition in the player piano market.

Furthermore, the two largest performing rights organizations that negotiate licenses and collect public performance royalties on behalf of songwriters are governed by Department of Justice consent decrees issued in 1941.  Licensing is compulsory and in many cases the government – not the marketplace – sets the price of music license royalties.  In today’s digital age, it is unreasonable for songwriter royalties to continue to be regulated by such an antiquated scheme.

We applaud the committee’s attention to music licensing during its ongoing review of the Copyright Act and believe the growing conversation and concerns about regulation in the music industry underscores the need for change.  The committee should reject calls for new regulations, which will ultimately discourage the marketplace from developing innovative licensing solutions, and instead focus on addressing the government’s role in royalty-setting.

It is time for the government to remove itself from the songwriter’s business process and let the free market determine the value of these artistic creations as occurs with other forms of intellectual property such as movies, books, video games, magazines, and television shows.  If the committee determines the government must continue to set songwriter royalty rates, at a minimum, we urge you to support H.R. 1283, the Songwriters Equity Act of 2015, which would guarantee that a market-based standard is applied when setting licensing rates.

Songwriters and publishers depend on royalties for their livelihood; and unlike recording artists, songwriters cannot supplement their income through touring, merchandise sales, or endorsements. Until anachronistic and burdensome regulations are eliminated, and songwriter compensation more accurately reflects its marketplace value, new songwriters will be dissuaded from entering the profession and future musical innovation will be stifled.

Thank you for your attention to this critical issue.

CC: Judiciary Committee Members

About the NMPA:
Founded in 1917, the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) is the trade association representing all American music publishers and their songwriting partners. The NMPA’s mandate is to protect and advance the interests of music publishers and songwriters in matters relating to the domestic and global protection of music copyrights. Learn more at www.nmpa.org.

Steven Tyler Joins Board of NMPA S.O.N.G.S. Foundation (Supporting Our Next Generation of Songwriters)

January 13th, 2016 by admin



For Immediate Release: January 13, 2016
Media Contact: Charlotte Sellmyer

WASHINGTON, D.C. –The National Music Publishers’ Association today announced that Aerosmith front man and accomplished songwriter Steven Tyler has joined the NMPA SONGS (Supporting Our Next Generation of Songwriters) Foundation Board of Directors.

“Everyone knows about Steven Tyler’s music, but not everyone knows what a passionate advocate he is for the people behind the songs,” said NMPA SONGS Foundation President David Israelite. “Considering his songwriting credentials, I am thrilled that he is joining the NMPA SONGS Foundation Board, where I know his insight and his heart for helping creators will be an incredible asset.”

“As a songwriter who has lived and breathed this business for most of my life, I see how hard it has become for those young artists who are trying to make it today. I’m proud to serve on the NMPA SONGS Foundation Board because young creators deserve a chance – and we are going to be instrumental in giving that to them.” – Steven Tyler 

The Foundation is a 501(c)3 corporation and seeks to provide grants to aspiring songwriters who are struggling in the age of streaming. Founded in 2015, the charity also aims to support composition education programs.

The NMPA SONGS Foundation Board consists of NMPA President & CEO David Israelite, singer-songwriter Jewel, songwriter Kara DioGuardi, Razor & Tie founder Craig Balsam, Nashville Songwriters Association (NSAI) President Lee Thomas Miller, Reservoir Media Management founder Golnar Khosrowshahi, NMPA EVP & General Counsel Danielle Aguirre and NMPA SVP of External Affairs, Charlotte Sellmyer.

About the NMPA SONGS Foundation:
Launched in 2015, the NMPA SONGS Foundation promotes the creation of music by supporting gifted songwriters and programs that foster composition education. The Foundation’s goal is to provide financial assistance and support of educational programs to assist talented writers to ensure they can continue their creativity. It is a 501(c)3 corporation. For more information, or to donate, please visit http://nmpa.org/atwork/nmpa-songs-foundation.

About Steven Tyler:
Steven Tyler is the iconic songwriter and prolific voice of the best-selling American rock band, Aerosmith. Tyler is considered one of music’s most recognizable, dynamic frontmen and has been cited by Rolling Stone as “one of the greatest singers of all time.” Tyler and Aerosmith have sold more than 150 million records worldwide, he has won 4 Grammy Awards, 6 American Music Awards, 4 Billboard Music Awards, and an Emmy Award. In addition to having 9 number one hits, 25 gold, 18 platinum and 12 multi-platinum album certifications, Tyler, along with the rest of his band members were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. In 2013, Tyler was awarded with the Founder’s Award at the ASCAP Pop Awards and was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. In November 2015, Tyler founded his philanthropic initiative Janie’s Fund (www.JaniesFund.org), in partnership with Youth Villages to bring hope and healing to girls who have suffered the trauma of abuse and neglect. Tyler is currently working on his highly anticipated solo album with Big Machine Label Group. His first country single ‘Love Is Your Name’ debuted on May 13, 2015 and reached #1 on the Billboard Country Streaming Songs chart. The accompanying video has garnered over 10 million views to date.