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NPR quits the MIC Coalition lobby group

By | Published on Wednesday 15 July 2015

MIC Coalition

National Public Radio has followed the lead of Amazon and quit the MIC Coalition, the campaigning group set up in the US to lobby for music licensees in the various music copyright debates that are ongoing Stateside.

As previously reported, back in April companies like Amazon, NPR, Google, Pandora and iHeartMedia joined with trade groups representing American broadcasters, retailers and restaurants to present a united front on an assortment of copyright issues, including the music publishers’ attempts to overhaul collective licensing rules and the latest push by US record labels to secure a sound recording royalty from AM/FM radio (which, unusually, doesn’t currently exist Stateside).

But Amazon withdrew from the Coalition last month, saying that it had become clear the issue it was most interested in – pressuring the music industry to provide better copyright ownership data to enable more efficient payment of royalties – was something of an after thought for most other members of the alliance, who were primarily concerned in keeping royalty commitments to the music industry down.

Of all the organisations signed up to the Coalition – which included some common foes of the music industry in the lobbying domain, such as Pandora and the American trade body for commercial radio – NPR perhaps stood out, given it generally has good relations with the music industry, which provides the online side of the public radio group with a steady stream of album exclusives and such like.

Which means its decision to now follow Amazon in pulling from the Coalition is perhaps unsurprising, though the radio group is yet to give a reason for its decision to bail. But either way, the move was welcomed by the music industry, with SoundExchange, which collects royalties from satellite and online radio services in the US, saying it “applauded NPR for taking this stand for the future of music and artists everywhere. We look forward to continuing our long-standing, positive collaboration with NPR”.

Meanwhile musicFIRST, which is lobbying for the music community in these debates, and which specifically called out NPR for its alliance with the MIC Coalition, said yesterday: “When Amazon took the lead and left this anti-artist Coalition, after concluding the group was ‘consumed’ with lowering payments to musicians, musicFIRST called on NPR to leave as well, arguing that their association with them went against their strong record as both a partner to artists and a supporter of great music”.

Continuing, musicFIRST’s Ted Kalo added: “Today, we applaud NPR for its willingness to listen and engage in a dialogue with musicians’ advocates. And we commend NPR’s decision to leave the MIC Coalition, separating itself from both the Coalition and its anti-artist agenda”.

NPR’s decision came amidst a week of action by artists and music groups online in support of the Fair Play, Fair Pay Act, which mainly addresses the AM/FM royalties issue, proposing a general (rather than just digital) performing right for sound recording rights owners in the US, so that all radio stations would be forced to pay royalties to record labels as well as music publishers, as is already the case in most other countries.