Music Modernization Act: NMPA Calls Sirius’ Protests ‘Patronizing,’ ‘Disingenuous,’ and ‘Pure Bullshit’

National Music Publishers' Association (NMPA) president & CEO David Israelite.
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National Music Publishers' Association (NMPA) president & CEO David Israelite.
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National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) president & CEO David Israelite.

So much for diplomacy and compromise.  Now, major music publishers are going for the jugular against Sirius XM Radio and its CEO, Jim Meyer, over the company’s recent protest against the Music Modernization Act.

A spirit of compromise on Capitol Hill now appears to be dissolving, with a serious battle intensifying between Sirius XM Radio and major music publishers.  The escalating fight could threaten the passage of the Music Modernization Act, depending on how things shake out.

Just last week, Sirius XM CEO Jim Meyer attacked the Music Modernization Act as unfair to satellite radio, and promised to fight the bill unless it was changed (you can read a summary of Meyer’s issues here.)  Of particular concern is the CLASSICS Act, which is part of the MMA and expands Sirius’ royalty requirements without imposing similar royalty requirements for traditional radio.

Meyer is also concerned that the bill will wipe out hundreds of millions in pre-arranged royalty agreements for oldies recordings, among other problems.

The National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), one of the major drivers behind the MMA, is in no mood to compromise, however.   Instead, NMPA president David Israelite is going on the attack, calling Sirius’ arguments ‘disingenuous,’ ‘patronizing,’ and ‘pure bullshit’.

In a series of hard-hitting tweets, Israelite blasted Meyer’s arguments against the Music Modernization Act, while threatening that repercussions would follow.

Here are Israelite’s fighting words, cobbled together from six consecutive tweets, and specifically attacking Meyer’s Billboard op-ed on the matter.

Let’s start by giving Mr. Meyer some credit for bringing his disingenuous and patronizing argument directly to the music industry by writing this in Billboard.  Although, he must think creators to be fairly stupid to think anyone would buy any of this.

And let’s also admit that he is right that broadcast radio should pay artists too. But it’s a red herring argument. Congress decided in 1995 to make digital radio pay. The MMA has nothing to do with revisiting that decision. He is mixing arguments to try to confuse you.

The MMA is not intended to fix every ill in the music industry. It is a consensus bill that can improve the lives for songwriters and artists. The fact that there are other wrongs still to right is NOT an argument against MMA. Unless you are Sirius trying to kill MMA selfishly.

His statement on WS/WB [willing buyer, willing seller] is pure bullshit.  Paying creators a market rate is not a failed experiment.  The fact Sirius is fighting so hard to preserve a 23 year old loophole enjoyed by 2 companies is cynical, selfish and offensive to the very creators who make Sirius possible.

Bottom line MMA passed the House 415-0 and has 60 Senate sponsors as of today.  Sirius is trying everything it can to screw creators by taking the bill down.  They will fail.  And when the dust settles creators should remember who exploits their music but then fights against them.

And BTW – this issue has nothing to do with songwriters and music publishers. But the MMA has brought the entire music industry together and I am happy to stand up for the artists, producers and record labels who are the targets of this ridiculous attack by @SIRIUSXM.

The angry tweets stand in sharp contrast to the NMPA’s earlier approach with Blackstone Group and its subsidiary, Harry Fox Agency.

Instead of a war of words, the publishing group hammered out a compromise that ultimately brought Blackstone back on board.

Blackstone was mostly concerned that that MMA would create a government-commissioned mechanical licensing monopoly, one that would edge its HFA out of business.  The resolution limited the Mechanical Licensing Collective’s areas of responsibility, while allowing outside, direct deals from companies like HFA.

But Israelite, an experienced player on Capitol Hill, could be strategizing differently with Sirius.  In its pushback, Blackstone faced a torrent of protest from angry songwriters and artists, and the NMPA could be rallying a similar wrath against Sirius XM.

The only question is whether that forces Sirius to back down without meaningful concessions.

7 Responses

  1. Remi Swierczek

    Time to STOP work on UNMANAGEABLE COMMUNIST decree!
    Go for NEW FAIR USE ACT and lock music in virtual walls, away from Google, Shazam PIMPS. Next day 200K Radio and TV stations, including Sirius can operate as old fashion music stores.
    Add to it 5 million public spots and 7 streamers on Ek’s all inclusive DOPE and we will have $300B, happy for all, music industry before 2030.
    Just PLAY THE BEST, subscription and ad free and charge for additions to personal play lists. Besides Google & Apple/Shazam there is less then 20 obscure, money losing entities PIMPING music to society of freeloaders and preventing it from becoming merchandise again.

  2. Anonymous

    Does MMA actually need Sirius XM’s support to pass?

    • Paul Resnikoff

      Maybe not — 63 Senators are committed to passing this, at least according to bill co-author Lamar Alexander.

  3. Anonymous

    Different sides have different reasons, and after researching, it’s even more obvious why it’s hard for some lawmakers to responsibly go for what seems to be such a big decision. How can the confusion be explained to them?

  4. W. Keating

    This Digital Music News article from last week really answers all of this bureaucrat’s arguments:


    “The CLASSICS Act specifically calls for federal recording copyrights to expand beyond 1972, the cut-off date for current sound recording royalties. But it doesn’t force traditional radio to pay any recording royalties, pre- or post-1972, thanks to a previously-arranged exemption.”

    “In Meyer’s opinion, that’s a handout to a close competitor, simply because of slight differences in how the music is delivered (i.e., a tower vs. a satellite). “’Radio is radio,’” Meyer continued. “’If SiriusXM and other ‘audio services’ pay pre-’72 royalties, then terrestrial radio should be required to do the same. The same is true for post-’72 royalties.’”

    “[Michael] Huppe, whose SoundExchange is widely expected to win a juicy ‘no bid’ government contract to manage the MMA’s Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC), is also advocating for a bill that contradicts language like this:”

    “’Nobody makes more money from recorded music than the $14 billion radio industry. Radio revenue blows away that earned by competitors like SiriusXM ($5.4 billion) and online streaming services ($6.2 billion in total)…. If radio wants to have rules that reflect the music industry of today then that should apply across the board.’”

    “Meyer is likely dragging [Michael Huppe into this discussion for a reason. After all, if Huppe is so adamant about traditional radio paying its fair due, why is he also adamantly backing a bill that extends the free pass?”

    “One explanation is the NAB, or National Association of Broadcasters, a powerful lobbying group that would ferociously fight any effort to make radio stations pay. All of which raises the question of whether the MMA is simply too far-reaching, and therefore guaranteed to create conflicts like this.”


    SiriusXM and Pandora already pay royalties to the recording artists of pre-1972 records pursuant to a court settlement reached three years ago. It will continue to pay pre-1972 artists whether the MMS passes or not.

    SiriusXM has grown into the one true success of digital broadcasters thus far. Through risk taking and brilliant management it has defied all the skeptics and will generate over $1.5 billion in free cash flow this year.

    Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Corp. has a stake of between 10 and 15 percent in Sirius. Gregg Maffei, the CEO of legendary media investor John Malone’s Berkshire Media conglomerate Liberty Media, is Chairman of the SiriusXM Board of Directors and Liberty Media owns a controlling interest in SiriusXM. Israelite is way over his head taking on these men.

  5. Anonymous

    I think we need to figure out how to pass a bill that forces all radio/non-interactive streaming (irrespective of transmission method) to pay performance for all copyrighted recordings (irrespective of recording date) without the NAB killing it. That won’t happen with MMA. Any ideas?

    • W. Keating

      I don’t understand why so many Congressmen are afraid of the NAB. But then I don’t understand why so many Congressmen are afraid of the National Rifle Association, either. Well, I guess a lot of it comes down to money and campaign contributions.

      Normally if you tried to pass a law offensive to the terrestrial radio industry, you would attach it to another law that Congressmen could use as cover for voting to end the performance royalty exemption. “I’m disappointed that this act will end the royalty exemption, but I felt that the plight of the elderly musicians without enough income was a national tragedy that required immediate action.”

      Even better, give something to terrestrial radio that it wants. There must be some gift from Congress that they want. Or invent a reason for capping terrestrial radio royalty payments at 90 percent of digital radio rates. Despite Trump, the Republicans are likely to pick up seats in the Senate this year, because 26 seats held by Democrats are being contested this year versus only nine held by Republicans. On the House side, all seats are up of course and the Democrats are likely to gain a significant number of seats.

      For either contingency, AM/FM radio might feel that it’s going to get hit with the royalties eventually and better to take a good deal on it now.