NMPA to Honor STING with Songwriter Icon Award at June 8 Annual Meeting, Irving Azoff to Keynote

May 5th, 2016 by Amy Lee

NMPA to Honor STING with Songwriter Icon Award at June 8 Annual Meeting in NYC

Irving Azoff to keynote with discussion on the evolution of music publishing and songwriting

Washington, D.C. – The National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) today announced that on June 8 it will honor singer-songwriter, musician and philanthropist Sting with its Songwriter Icon Award in Manhattan. Additionally, NMPA President & CEO David Israelite will host a keynote discussion with legendary manager, executive and visionary Irving Azoff.

The NMPA President’s Award will be given to Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) for his contributions to helping creators survive in the Digital Age. Additionally, esteemed attorney and music publisher John Eastman will be given the Lifetime Service Award and Pat Collins, Vice Chairman of SESAC, will receive the Industry Legacy Award.

“I am incredibly excited to honor Sting at this year’s Annual Meeting,” said NMPA President & CEO David Israelite. “He is a household name not only for leading The Police and his work as a solo artist, but also through his unsurpassed songwriting. Additionally, I am thrilled to hear from Irving Azoff who has made an indelible mark on music, and to celebrate John and Pat, both of whom have provided leadership that continues to guide our industry.” Israelite added, “As Congress continues to play a huge role in songwriters’ future, I look forward to honoring Congressman Jeffries who has been a leader in advancing the Songwriter Equity Act.”

Each year, the NMPA holds its Annual Meeting at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square the night prior to the Songwriters Hall of Fame Dinner. This June, singer-songwriter Devin Dawson will kick off the event followed by the San Antonio-bred band, The Last Bandoleros plus a special performance by Sting. David Israelite will deliver his yearly State of the Industry Address which will include new publishing industry data and a forecast for what’s to come.

Interested members of the media must register to attend. Photos will be provided upon request.

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.

Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels

NMPA S.O.N.G.S. Foundation Helps Fund National High School Songwriter Search

February 23rd, 2016 by Amy Lee

NEA and Playbill Launch Songwriting Challenge for High Schoolers


The songwriting competition will give young songwriters in select cities a chance to share their music.

WASHINGTON, D.C.: The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and Playbill, Inc. are teaming up to search for the next generation of songwriting talent, with Disney Theatrical Group providing additional support. In its pilot year, the Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge will be available to high school students in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn.; Dallas County, Tex.; and Seattle and King County, Wash.
“The Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge is part of the NEA’s 50th Anniversary efforts to strengthen and highlight the creative development of young people and prepare them for the future,” said NEA chairman Jane Chu in a statement. “The NEA has long been at the forefront of supporting emerging artists, especially in the music discipline, where NEA-supported artists have gone on to receive Grammy nominations and win Grammy Awards, as well as the Pulitzer Prize in music.”

The initiative offers students an opportunity to showcase their songwriting talents and compete for scholarship prizes. Students are asked to submit audio recordings electronically, and three finalists—one from each region—will travel to New York City for an intensive songwriting workshop with professional musicians, singers, songwriters, and producers to sharpen their skills and learn about the industry.

The final competition will include a presentation of the original songs, performed by professional musicians and singers.

The winner will receive a scholarship award of $5,000, and each runner-up will receive $2,500. The scholarships are provided by the National Music Publishers’ Association Supporting Our Next Generation of Songwriters (S.O.N.G.S.) Foundation. The national winner’s song will be published by Sony/ATV.

“This challenge, which seeks to discover the next generation of songwriters, will be able to explore untapped talent throughout the United States,” said Philip Birsh, CEO and president of Playbill, Inc., in a statement.

Students can submit a musical theatre song in any style. Applications can be submitted througharts.gov/songwriting from Feb. 17 to April 4.

Each city will administer the challenge with local partners, which include Perpich Center for Arts Education in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.; Big Thought in Dallas County, Texas; and the Office of Arts & Culture in Seattle and King County, Wash.

BILLBOARD: NMPA Head Says ‘Free’ May Work for Pandora But is Devastating to Songwriters

September 24th, 2015 by Amy Lee

NMPA Head Says ‘Free’ May Work for Pandora But is Devastating to Songwriters: Op-Ed


In his editorial in Billboard on Wednesday, Pandora CEO Brian McAndrews writes that this is a transformative period in the music industry. On this we agree. Unfortunately Pandora is transforming the industry into a place where songwriters have no say in how their work is given away, and can barely make a living, all while the streaming giant touts the benefits of giving their music out for free.

Pandora argues that “all evidence indicates that the overwhelming majority of Americans cannot, or will not, pay a monthly subscription fee.” Perhaps one of the reasons many Americans do not pay for music is because Pandora has told them they no longer need to, since Pandora expects songwriters to subsidize its business by paying them almost nothing – and fighting to pay them even less.

Pandora’s CEO Explains Why ‘Free’ Music Is Worth So Much: Op-Ed

How egregious are Pandora’s payments to songwriters? Pandora is proud to point out that they have paid out $1.5 billion in royalties, but what it doesn’t disclose is that only a tiny fraction of that went to the songwriters who made their business possible. Today, while record labels and artists receive around 42% of Pandora’s revenue, songwriters and music publishers get only around 4%. Let that sink in.

Pandora is keeping 54% of its revenue, and sharing only around 4% with the creators who write the songs. That means Pandora believes that delivering songs over an Internet connection is somehow worth more than 13 times the songs themselves. There is no news, no sports, no weather, no comedy – only music. Yet the music creators get less than 5% of the revenue generated from the service.

It is a bold statement for a technology company to tell songwriters that what it is doing with the songwriters’ intellectual property is “good for them” while the songwriters vehemently disagree. Perhaps it should be up to the people who create the music to decide whether giving it away for free is the way of the future.Taylor Swift didn’t think so – which is why she pulled her music from Spotify. But because of how music is regulated by the federal government, Taylor Swift does not have any choice whether her music is given away on Pandora for free.

Swift famously said last year, “I’m not willing to contribute my life’s work to an experiment that I don’t feel fairly compensates the writers, producers, artists and creators of this music. And I just don’t agree with perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free.”

The truth is that when it comes to music streaming, subscriptions – even very low-cost ones – are the driving force for profit. Pandora’s paid users account for only 4.9% of listenership, but those 4.9% of users contribute over 20% of Pandora’s revenue. Spotify’s paid users account for 27% of listenership, and that contributes a whopping 91% of its revenue.  That is why it was such welcome news when Apple announced that its music subscription service does not have a free tier.

The other benefit Pandora boasts about its “freemium” model is exposure, however songwriters lose there as well. While Pandora claims it has upped ticket sales for touring artists – including those like The Rolling Stones who aren’t exactly struggling – remember that many songwriters who need streaming songwriting royalties to feed their families don’t tour, don’t sell merchandise and don’t sign endorsement deals. Improved ticket sales for artists don’t help the songwriters who write their hits, and who need it most.

How exactly does Pandora get away with its “freemium” service, all while pandering to music lovers in Billboard about how this is a good thing? Due to Justice Department regulations called consent decrees put in place during World War II, songwriters are not able to tell Pandora “no.” Pandora knows this, and is doing everything it can to keep the status quo. Instead of treating songwriters like business partners, as would happen in a free market, Pandora is actually fighting to reduce the tiny amount it pays songwriters through a three-front attack of litigation, lobbying and legal gimmicks like purchasing an AM/FM radio station in South Dakota to pay even lower royalty rates.

Ultimately, Pandora is correct that the Internet has opened up incredible opportunity for digital music platforms that enhance the industry for artists, songwriters and listeners. However, its defense of their “freemium” model leaves out the fact that it is devastating the songwriting community, which never consented in the first place.

There is a place for ad-supported streaming, subscriptions and other types of monetized music listening, but users should know the facts before listening to Pandora’s spins.

David Israelite is the President and CEO of the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA). 



Music Row: Songwriters, PROs, and Publishers Unite For Change at NMPA Town Hall Meeting

September 23rd, 2015 by Charlotte Sellmyer

Via Music Row:

Songwriters, PROs, and Publishers Unite For Change at NMPA Town Hall Meeting

• September 10, 2015 •

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The National Music Publishers’ Association’s Songwriter Town Hall drew a packed crowd of songwriters, PRO executives and publishers to the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel on Wednesday, Sept. 9.

NSAI Executive Director Bart Herbison and NSAI president/singer-songwriter Lee Thomas Millerwelcomed NMPA president/CEO David Israelite, who shared a series of bleak statistics regarding songwriter and publisher income from music services including Spotify, Pandora and SiriusXM. “Digital music companies are making millions off the backs of songwriters,” he said.

Israelite shared that SiriusXM brings in $22 billion in revenue, and keeps 86 percent of its revenues. Labels get 10 percent, while writers/publishers get four percent.

Next up, Spotify. Of Spotify’s $8.53 billion income, 10.5 percent goes to publishers/songwriters, while 59 percent goes to labels and Spotify keeps 30.5 percent. This total revenue comes from Spotify’s paid subscribers. According to Israelite’s statistics, 73 percent of Spotify users do not pay for the service, meaning that revenues are based on only 27 percent of Spotify users.

Photo: SongSpace/Twitter

He also noted that songwriters currently do not have a choice as to whether their music is included on these services.

“When Taylor Swift removed her music from Spotify,” said Israelite, “understand that she could make that decision, as she was the artist behind these songs. She couldn’t do that if she was [only] the songwriter.”

Finally, Pandora. The company’s $3.79 billion is split, with 42 percent going to labels, 54 percent kept by Pandora, and four percent to publishers/writers. Israelite included that 95 percent of Pandora users do not pay for the service.

In 2014 total revenue for the U.S. songwriting and publishing industry was down 2.5 percent from the prior year, bringing in a total of $2,151,828,613.00. Of this amount, approximately 52.6 percent is from performance royalties, while 21.3 percent is from mechanicals and 20.4 percent is sync licensing.

Pictured (L-R): Ashley Gorley, Nicolle Galyon, Michael Carter, Cole Taylor with their NMPA Songwriting Gold & Platinum Awards at the Bluebird Cafe.

With more than half of publisher/songwriter revenues coming from performance royalties, Israelite says it underlines the importance of the battle that PROs, publishers and songwriters are fighting against the antiquated consent decrees that have governed PROs BMI and ASCAP since 1941.

“Companies that are against songwriters will spend an estimated $79.8 million in lobbying efforts, from 405 lobbyists,” said Israelite. “Companies fighting for songwriters will spend a total of $1.9 million on those activities. It’s an uphill battle, and it’s crucial that all interests come together to say we want our songs to be worth more than they are currently valued,” said Israelite. He also noted that the battle continues to increase statutory mechanical rates for physical formats and permanent digital downloads from the current 9.1 cents per song.

Israelite called for publishers, songwriters, PROs and music fans to unite to cause changes to laws that govern mechanical and performance royalties. “Nearly 75 percent of your song’s value is regulated by the government in a way that doesn’t regulate it properly,” said Israelite.

He lauded NSAI’s Bart Herbison and Lee Thomas Miller for their efforts to lobby for songwriters, and for bringing songwriters to testify and perform before members of Congress.

After taking questions from members of the audience, Israelite and Miller offered a myriad of suggestions to aid in the battle, including urging songwriters to join NSAI, and to support their PROs’ efforts to bring about a fair income for writers.

Israelite also mentioned the power of the artist-songwriter. “Many artists, themselves songwriters, have also joined us in these efforts,” he said, noting the work of Lady Antebellum, Bon Jovi, andSteven Tyler. “I will tell you, I feel that having Steven Tyler perform and meet with members of Congress in Washington did more to make them aware of the situation songwriters face than I had done over the course of a few years. Writers, when you are writing with other songwriters or artists, bring up these issues and get them involved. These artists are songwriters themselves and are passionate about this cause. Let’s use our secret weapon.”

Pictured (L-R): Ashley Gorley, Cole Taylor, Michael Carter, Nicolle Galyon, NMPA CEO David Israelite.

Read online here: http://www.musicrow.com/2015/09/songwriters-pros-and-publishers-unite-for-change-at-nmpa-town-hall-meeting/


Billboard Country Update: Songwriters, Stand Up!

September 23rd, 2015 by Charlotte Sellmyer


Via Billboard: http://www.billboard.com/files/pdfs/country_update_0914.pdf


SONGWRITERS, STAND UP! Nashville songwriters were encouraged during a National Music Publishers’ Association town hall meeting on Sept. 9 to make their voices heard as the government reviews an antiquated system that regulates royalties. NMPA president/CEO David Israelite used slides and financial data to demonstrate that songwriters and publishers are in a David-and-Goliath battle for fairness as consumers transition from a music-purchase economy to a streaming model. The $2 billion publishing industry spent $1.9 million to lobby Congress in 2014, just 2 percent of the $79.8 million investment that its adversaries, including Spotify, made in politicking. The latter business, valued at $8 billion by analysts, is four times the economic size of music publishers. Hundreds of songwriters attended, including Bill Anderson, Ashley Gorley (“Kick the Dust Up”), Tom Douglas (“The House That Built Me”), Wood Newton (“Bobbie Sue”), Steve Bogard (“Carried Away”) and Lee Thomas Miller (“Crushin’ It”).

Israelite encouraged them to stand together as a community and to enlist with writer agencies — particularly the Nashville Songwriters Association International — as their representatives work to revise procedures and rate mechanisms that were established in older eras. Copyright in the digital era is built upon a system that was started to solve player-piano disputes before even the radio became a public commodity. Songwriter royalties are doled out in smaller percentages in the United States than in other developed countries, according to Israelite. One of the biggest issues, he said, is that every congressman has broadcasters among their constituents, while songwriters are concentrated in smaller areas. Legislators are often unaware of songwriters who grew up their districts and unfamiliar with the economics of their business. “Put a songwriter in front of a member,” said Israelite. “They’ll listen to us.”


Image from NMPA’s Nashville Town Hall

Music Row: Zac Brown Band Gets Knee Deep in NMPA Awards

August 19th, 2015 by Charlotte Sellmyer

Via Music Row:

Zac Brown Band Gets Knee Deep in NMPA Awards

• August 17, 2015 •

Zac Brown Band members Zac Brown, Coy Bowles and John Hopkins were recently honored with awards from the National Music Publishers Association during a Jekyll+Hyde tour stop in Washington National’s Park. NMPA President and CEO David Israelite recognized the band members with multi-platinum awards for their hit songs “Knee Deep” (penned by Brown and Bowles) and “Chicken Fried” (Brown). Platinum recognition was awarded to “Colder Weather” (Brown, Bowles), and “Toes” (Hopkins, Brown), while the NMPA honored the tunes “Sweet Annie” (Bowles, Brown) and “Whatever It Is” (Brown) with gold awards.

Pictured (L-R): NMPA's David Israelite and ZBB's John Hopkins.


NMPA’s Annual Celebration of the American Songwriter

April 22nd, 2015 by Charlotte Sellmyer


NMPA’s Annual Celebration of the American Songwriter was a huge hit on a beautiful night in Washington, D.C.

Grace Jones opened for Lady Antebellum who spoke about what songwriting has meant to them. Members of the band were honored with NMPA’s Songwriter Icon Award and performed several iconic songs.

Lawmakers, Congressional staff and industry executives were in attendance and heard about the challenges songwriters face in the Digital Age. Photos from the event are below:

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Publishing Trade Association Responds to Roger Faxon, Saying ‘Pandora Exploits Songwriters’

April 21st, 2015 by Charlotte Sellmyer

Like many in the music biz, David Israelite was surprised to learn of RogerFaxon’s decision to join the board of directors at Pandora. In this open letter exclusively published by Billboard, Israelite shares his thoughts on how it might all pan out for the veteran music publisher in his new relationship with the digital music service. Israelite is the president and CEO of the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA). Founded in 1917, NMPA is the trade association representing all American music publishers and their songwriting partners.

Guest Post: With Merger in the Rearview, Former EMI CEO Roger Faxon Thinks the Future of Music Is Pandora

I was surprised to read in Billboard that Roger Faxon — a former music publisher and friend — has agreed to join the Pandora board of directors. This was shocking because Mr. Faxon knows all too well that Pandora has been waging war against the same songwriters he used to represent. The digital giant is doing everything in its power to reduce even further what little it pays to songwriters through a strategy of lawsuits, aggressive lobbying, and even legal gimmicks.