NAB, Google, Amazon Join in Music Coalition

The National Association of Broadcasters, Google and Amazon have teamed up to push back against a music industry push for a public performance right (payment) for on-air and online music.

The MIC Coalition (Music. Innovation. Consumers.) says that it is "imperative" that "music policies are balanced among all participants rather than just those of the major record labels and publishers." NAB says the goal is to make sure that copyright decisions are "grounded in rationality, affordability and predictability."

"Local broadcasters are pleased to join in the historic launch of this diverse coalition designed to preserve and enhance a vibrant music and creative community in the U.S.," said NAB president Gordon Smith. "Make no mistake: American music is the most successful in the world, aided in part by intellectual property laws that do not tilt in favor of record labels over the millions of daily listeners who consume music.”

The new coalition says it has four fundamental principles:

1. "Music must be affordable and accessible so that consumers can continue to enjoy it, artists can be compensated for it, and the marketplace can continue to grow to its fullest potential;"

2. "Audiences must be able to connect with artists and their songs for the betterment of the entire music industry;"

3. "Consumers benefit when they can legally access music in a variety of venues, on a diversity of devices and in new and innovative ways;" and

4. "The need for transparent and direct ways to access music and compensate artists."

"The next 24 months are pivotal for music, with big decisions coming from the Department of Justice, the Copyright Royalty Board and Congress that will have the potential to determine how and where music is played and what costs consumers and users will bear," the coalition said.

Also part of the group are the American Hotel & Lodging Association, Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), Cox Media Group, Digital Media Association (DiMA), iHeartMedia, K-LOVE, the National Council of Chain Restaurants, National Public Radio (NPR), the National Restaurant Association, the National Retail Federation (NRF), Pandora Radio and Salem Media Group.

The coalition's formation was announced the same day that Maria Pallante, head of the Copyright Office, told Congress that it was time to establish that public performance right and better harmonize payments for online and on-air music.

The Future of Music Coalition, which has been pushing for the public performance payments and other changes, sounded a hopeful note about the possibility of dialog.

"Future of Music Coalition has always been about fostering dialog around the policy issues that impact the creative sector, particularly those that impact musicians and composers," the group, comprising publishers and artists, said in a statement. "We're now at the beginning of what will surely be a longer set of conversations about how to balance the need for artists to be paid fairly and accurately with the desire to grow the legitimate music marketplace. There may be instances where musicians, managers and independent labels find themselves in alignment with new advocacy voices like M.I.C., and times when we disagree. With so much at stake, we think it's far better to have the conversation than to retreat to our respective corners, so to this extent we recognize the need for existing and emerging coalitions with a stake in how all of this turns out."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.