NMPA Sees the Truth Years After the Rest of Us.

Moses Avalon

During the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) annual meeting on June 16, CEO David Israelite stated in his key note address that he has identified the “new” enemy of the music biz– Computer and Communications Industry.  But didn’t everyone already know that?

Even though it’s nice to finally see someone in an executive position declare with authority what has, up till now, been delegated as something of a conspiracy theory, this pronouncement is kind of like Columbus “discovering” America.I wrote about the tech industry’s hidden agendas in an article called “The DRM Manifesto,” in 2007.

David Israelite: Prophet of Hindsight

(If only Mr. Israelite had been a subscriber to my blog, which I believe he is, now that I think about it).

Okay, so now that the NMPA has seen the light, what will they do about it?

The NMPA has filed their suit against LimeWire and they’ll win. But after the RIAA, whose victory last month entitles them to collect something south of $1,000,000,000; I’m not sure there is going to be anything left in LimeWire’s purse for the songwriters.

I like David.I first met him at a NARAS function years back.He’s a good egg, but his attitude personifies the reason that the $85Billion tech world was able to so easily battle against the $15 Billion music industry; a sort of corporate narcissism that says, “nothing ever happens till it happens to us.”

Taking advantage of our malignant myopia about strategic changes in the music landscape, ISPs used the oldest trick in the book– divide and conquer.And divide us they did, quite well.Of course, they had a great head start and a lot of help — from us.


Labels and publishers have been for years squabbling over how to divide up money earned from new, Internet-based revenue streams.Publishers argue that the underlying composition deserves an equal split of the booty because without the unique combination of lyrics and chords, labels would have no fodder to create hit records.Labels, conversely feel that it is they who make the substantial investment in developing and promoting the song, therefore, they want the lion’s share.

To use a metaphor, publishers own the beach front property, but the label builds the billions dollar resort and markets it to the public.While the resort has to continuously promote and maintain the beach to keep money rolling in, the landowner just collects cash as their land goes up in value. Should new revenue created by the resort be split equally with the landowner?It depends on what side of the economics you’re on.

Labels have fought publishers vying for equal shares of licensing fees, proposing that the US adopt the standard in most foreign countries– a 90/10 split in favor of labels.Publishers scream, “labels are greedy” (another “new” discovery) and won’t give an inch. This is why it took almost seven years to establish new Statutory Rates for ringtones, streaming, internet radio, etc.

Tech lawyers even turned our in-fighting into a sound legal defense, saying that they would love to pay the music biz for licenses, but, since the publishers and labels couldn’t come to an agreement, they didn’t know how much to pay and to whom.This clever argument has cost our industry millions.

The argument has been the single largest detriment to our industry.Far worse than piracy; it weakened our ability to fight as a unified force against the tech giants promoting theft, and making music the free toy at the bottom of their cereal box.


But all this is prologue.The very funny thing about Israelite’s pronouncement of the new enemy, is that the war is now winding down.The enemy will soon be our partner.

ISPs are making three strikes and graduated response deals with content holders and cooperating with European and Canadian agencies while they raid P2P hubs, write new anti-piracy laws and arrest infringers.Have ISPs grown a heart? No. ISPs are trying to position themselves as an alternative to Cable TV.Now they need to provide legally obtainable content.So, in the eyes of the ISPs, music has been promoted from the free toy at the bottom of the box, to the nuts and raisins in the cereal.

The tide, while it still has a long way to go, has turned and I believe it will not be more than a few years until we are back to business as usual.Sure, there’s still Google to tame with their recent (temporary) victory over Viacom and their book digitizing efforts, but all this is likely going to resolve in the coming years.ISPs are trying to curry favor to fend off the Fed’s internet regulatory attempts.

Where does this leave Mr. Israelite and his discovery of the “new” enemy? I don’t know.To me he looks a bit like General Patton proclaiming that the Germans are the enemy on D-Day.It’s kinda surreal, actually.Sorry David, don’t flame me, I love ya and support ya, but, my response is that you should actually read the posts of mine that you subscribe to. You could have been in front of the RIAA instead of waiting in line behind them at the LimeWire payout window.If ya did that maybe the NMPA–who has let the RIAA take a public brow beating for years–wouldn’t look like the last kid at the dance without a date.

Or maybe it’s time for a new trade organization.One that combines the agendas of both the NMPA and the RIAA and can fight for all components of music as one force, instead of just the recording side or the publishing side.

Unified Trade Group Proposed


In spite of my comments above, I support the NMPA.Israelite’s speech is worth a good read.His “top 10” list (reprinted below) is an excellent decoder for those following the ISP/content war.He clearly and articulately outlines the challenges of past years and the truth about what ails us, even if it’s a truth that many labels and artists already learned the hard way.

Mo out.

The David Israelite Top Ten List

Regardless of what a website or person claims, you know an entity is secretly, or unconsciously anti-music business, anti-artist and anti-composer, if they fit any of the agendas below.

No. 10: They support changing the law to reduce damages for copyright infringement.

No. 9: They support the elimination of statutory damages for secondary copyright infringement.

No. 8: They favor rolling back copyright extension; in some cases, radically.

No. 7: They favor the elimination of the songwriter and publisher rights for server, cache and buffer copies.

No. 6: They oppose efforts to obtain the identities of individuals engaged in massive copyright infringement.

No. 5: They support extreme versions of orphan works legislation.

No. 4: They have filed legal briefs supporting anti-copyright positions of Grokster, Napster, LimeWire, Cablevision, Google, YouTube and Verizon.

No. 3: They oppose graduated-response protection for copyright owners.

No. 2: They oppose treaties that support copyright enforcement like the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

No. 1: They actually argue that illegal peer-to-peer file-sharing traffic helps the economy and doesn’t hurt songwriters.


  1. Gary Kochakji says:

    Moses, Thank you a thousand times over for being on our side and keeping us informed.
    Listening to all my friends reason why it’s perfectly fine to steal music…… well, up until now, I was feeling as hopeless as a fart in tornado.

  2. Anthony J says:

    Yea mose that y I do not put my music on the web. Intill isp is control and my copyrights are safe.

  3. CHuck Cannon says:

    Thanks Moses …

    As former President of the nation’s largest songwriter association, NSAI, I can attest to totally unnecessary and costly bickering between the labels and the publishers over how to divide the dollar.

    I have maintained (as you have) that it has always been within the technological capabilities of the ISPs to make illegal downloading, if not impossible, not worth the effort.

    Maybe now that our stature has moved up from prizes to raisins the $s will begin to grow for us in what can be an enormous “long-tail” market/industry.

    peace … out ~
    Chuck Cannon

  4. Mitch Davis says:

    What about getting a list of companies which are anti-artist and have this agenda.

    I also believe that it is important to go after the big media companies which operate websites and magazines like Conde Nast, who owns Ars Technica or companies like them.

    Their properties take a big Anti-music copyright take and lead a “war” against the value of music.

    this is horrible considering some of these companies own VANITY FAIR and many other media properties.

    so… i think it is time the music business starts fighting those who attack it with some of their subsidiaries.

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