Music Modernization Act: NMPA President Calls Sirius XM ‘Hypocrites’ and ‘So Pathetic’

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As the Music Modernization Act (MMA) amasses greater Senatorial support, Sirius XM Radio remains a threatening opponent.

At last count, the Music Modernization Act enjoyed overwhelming support from U.S. Senators.  Ahead of the weekend, attorney Dina LaPolt, an architect of the bill, pointed to 70 co-sponsors.  Earlier updates suggested 69, either of which is more than enough to pass the bill in the upper chamber.

Earlier, the House of Representatives unanimously passed the bill, 415-0.  And for those outside of the U.S., the Senate only has 100 members (two for each U.S. state) — meaning a serious majority already exists.

So who cares if Sirius XM Radio is making such a stink about this bill?

Major music publishers, that’s who.  Over the past week, National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) president David Israelite has started a war of words against Sirius XM Radio, whose opposition appears to be a serious threat.

On a laid back Labor Day (September 3rd), Israelite blasted Sirius XM for being ‘hypocrites’ and ‘so pathetic’.  The salty tweet followed a Sirius XM Radio plug of its ‘VOLUME’ channel, which features interviews with artists and songwriters.

“I love having these conversations about songwriting and collaborating with some of my closest friends,” show host Shane McAnally tweeted out.  “Y’all can check out all the episodes tomorrow… Labor Day marathon of Songville!”

Israelite was in no mood to chit-chat about the songwriting process.

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Earlier, the trolling Israelite went on a Twitter tirade against Sirius XM CEO Jim Meyer, calling his arguments ‘pure bullshit,’ ‘patronizing,’ and ‘disingenuous’ while vaguely threatening repercussions against the satellite radio giant.  In a lengthy Billboard op-ed, Meyer promised to fight the Music Modernization Act, specifically because it fails to address serious royalty exemptions for traditional radio.

Sirius XM doesn’t enjoy those same benefits, a lopsided landscape that Meyer says is simply unfair.  Accordingly, Meyer and cable-focused streaming radio service Music Choice have vowed to fight the bill until those aspects are addressed.

One question is why there isn’t a compromise this time around.

Earlier, Blackstone Group waged a similar protest, specifically over its wholly-owned mechanical licensing entity, Harry Fox Agency.  Blackstone was concerned that the MMA would obliterate HFA, so terms were hammered out to limit the mechanical licensing responsibilities of the Mechanical Licensing Collective, which the MMA would create.  Blackstone came back on board.

But this time around, there seems to be no compromise afoot.  Instead, pro-MMA groups have vowed to fight Sirius, instead of working out possible changes to the MMA’s provisions on radio royalties.

One compromise possibility could involve a delay or separation of the contested CLASSICS Act, which is part of the MMA and contains the controversial sections.  But that has never been mentioned.

Separately, the Music Modernization Act isn’t on the Senate’s ‘Active Legislation’ calendar.

That could be problematic for groups like the NMPA, especially as midterm elections put a squeeze on Senatorial schedules.  Or, perhaps the bill will enter the active docket tomorrow.

Either way, successful passage by the Senate would still require a re-vote in the House of Representatives, given that some changes were made to the bill since the House vote.  Then, after a final version is approved, it’s off to the White House for approval.

All of which seems possible.  But not if Sirius finds a way to substantially delay a vote.


10 Responses

  1. Derek

    David Israelite is among the most disingenuous human beings on the planet.

    Ask him about taking money from the global auction companies to lobby against art resale royalties.

    This guy doesn’t give a crap about creators. He works for multinationals whose interests are rarely aligned with the actual composers of music.

    SiriusXM’s arguments are very narrow, and based in the fact that they are already paying pre-72 royalties for the vast majority of sound recordings via settlements and private deals. I imagine they may embrace legislation that provides greater business certainty, provided they aren’t penalized against competitors like terrestrial radio who pay precisely zero dollars for either pre-or-post-72 sound recordings.

    The fact that David Israelite and his cronies didn’t bother to even approach SiriusXM when this legislation was being draftesd is, in fact, the height of disingenuousness. Though it’s entirety expected from a man drawing a million dollar-plus annual salary on the backs of those he purports to represent.

  2. Tony Gottlieb

    I suppose you could say that I am one of David Israelite’s cronies.
    Cut the crap Derek, Sirius XM pays pre72s because they were sued in 3 states.
    The MMA is a compromise, not a perfection.

      • Tony Gottlieb

        Holders of creator rights store boxes of worthless NOIs while DiMA’s cashes billion dollar IPOs. Some folks forget when they got it good. It’s expensive when you have to pick your own cotton.

    • W. Keating

      Israelite may be attacking Meyer as the man in charge at SiriusXM, but he is not pulling the strings. John Malone, the “Cable Cowboy,” net worth $8 billion, twin degrees in Electrical Engineering and Economics from Yale, a doctorate from Johns Hopkins. Learned about telecoms as a student in a joint program that was given by NYU and Bell Labs. Malone’s own Liberty Media conglomerate has a controlling 73 percent interest in SiriusXM. So why is Israelite not attacking Malone?

      Malone is often referred to as the 2nd greatest investor after Warren Buffett. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway company owns a 10 to 15 percent minority stake in SiriusXM. Known for his progressive politics, Buffett has yet to have been heard on this matter.

      It is very comical to hear this low level bureaucrat throwing insults at his betters. It is very simple. Streaming and satellite broadcasters have to pay very large royalties, as in 30 to 45 percent of gross revenue, to recording artists whose recordings they play. Traditional AM/FM radio stations do not.

      Why so the terrestrial stations not have to pay these music licensing fees? Because it is an election year and Congressmen up for re-election don’t want to antagonize their local radio stations or their powerful lobby, the National Association of Broadcasters. The NRA is not the only lobby that can force representatives to make senseless votes not in the public interest.

      • Derek

        A very accurate assessment of the political realities regarding the terrestrial loophole.

        I will add that it’s interesting to see the sound recording companies go full court press on pre-72s, when as recently as 2010 they were arguing vociferously against either full or even partial federalization.

        Full federalization makes the most sense from a policy and parity standpoint, provided the terrestrial loophole is closed. Let’s see that proposal.

        The MMA portion of the bill is interesting in that some in the music policy community were arguing in support of a blanket license clmanaged by a collective at least a decade ago. What took Israelite so long to get there? I assume it’s because “litigation and opacity” as a business model doesn’t fly when you’re trying to get out of other government regulations.

        Now what was that about disingenuous again?

  3. Truth

    Until congress listens to Jonna Johnson the top writer of the last 10 years who was ripped off by a group of schemers……i promise we will not see a fair solution for songwriters. We will be tricked into these horrible plots so that they are free to steal not only her work but moving forward the work of other songwriters

    • W Keating

      SiriusXM, Pandora and even Spotify realize that songwriters’ payments are going to increase over the coming years. The songwriters receive so much less than the recording artists currently.

      SiriusXM and the other streamers just want terrestrial over-the-air broadcasters to pay the same.