We have entered an era where Big Tech controls the purse strings for the Mechanical Licensing Collective. Despite that oddity, it’s refreshing to see the leaders of the music industry come together to form the Music Artists Coalition as a counterbalance to Big Tech and its counterpart, the MIC Coalition. The MIC Coalition included Google directly at one point, but then stopped using the Google logo in their membership after Google became a lighting rod of opposition to the group.
The MIC Coalition is the face of opposition on a terrestrial royalty for artist pay for radio play, and they make no bones about it. Irving Azoff has demonstrated that he’s one of the only managers in the music business who is willing to take on these people in court and we applaud him for it. Along with MusicFirst and SoundExchange CEO Mike Huppe, those willing to stand up and be counted are few and far between.
There are, unfortunately, the inside-the-beltway Cassandras who have counseled a limp reaction to the MIC Coalition in recent years. These may find some backbone now that the artists and managers who together account for approximately 80% of global turnover (just my guess) in both publishing and recordings say not so fast. Because what political types are really good at is finding a parade then elbowing their way to the front of the line to pretend they were there all along–and if there’s anyone who can spot such people a mile off it’s the artists who are in this new group.
I’d say that the MIC Coalition is not as strong as they might appear. Instead of cowering before them, let’s see how they hold up after a couple really hard round-house kicks and a little asymmetrical soft shoe. Maybe they’ll still be standing. But you won’t know if you don’t try.
I’m also really, really pleased to see Susan Genco taking a leading role in the management of the new organization. Susan had the best quote in Bloomberg:
Neither of these groups speaks for the songwriters that must be compensated, according to Susan Genco, an industry veteran and board member for the Music Artists Coalition.“We want state and national legislatures to know that if you want a true artist’s perspective, not one that may be compromised, this is the organization you call,” Genco said. “This is for artists, by artists and from artists.”
Susan has been at this for a long time in a variety of jobs that gives her that valuable 360 degree viewpoint. She has earned the kind of hands-on experience working with the people who actually make the business run. I have every confidence that she will bring the kind of well-adjusted creator-centered practical knowledge and trust that has been sorely lacking. It’s not surprising that a quiet professional like Susan has the confidence of these top managers.
This new effort deserves your support.
[A version of this post appeared in MusicTechPolicy Monthly.]