We were sent this internal email from inside National Public Radio by a whistleblower. The internal email was apparently in response to the criticism of NPR coming from independent artists online. As we suspected, it appears that NPR’s participation in the controversial “Mic Coalition” (or as we call it the “McCoalition”) was a decision taken by NPR’s Policy and Representation division (aka “suits”) without consulting with any of the music or news workers or any of the NPR member stations.
NPR is participating in the Music, Innovation & Consumers (MIC) Coalition to ensure that public radio’s voice is heard in future policy decisions involving copyright law. Changes to copyright law may have a direct impact on public radio stations’ abilities to bring music to listeners nationwide.
Our participation in this coalition is not an endorsement of the business plans or activities of other members.
The coalition has not yet made specific legislative or regulatory proposals. We will reassess our participation in the coalition as such proposals are drafted.
We have joined the MIC Coalition through NPR’s Policy and Representation division, which is charged with representing the needs and interests of NPR Member Stations before federal legislative and regulatory bodies. This role is stipulated in NPR’s charter which provides that it is part of NPR’s mission to represent our members in matters of mutual interest.
Our participation in the coalition is completely separate from NPR’s newsroom. NPR journalists and music curators have absolutely no role or involvement in the coalition.
Who Did NPR Get Into Bed With?
What’s different about the McCoalition is that we now see who our enemies are. Not only does the McCoalition include the NAB–an extraordinarily powerful special interest group long devoted to protecting crony capitalism and the broadcaster loophole–it also includes Google, Amazon, Pandora, the Digital Media Association (of which Google/YouTube, Amazon and Pandora are members), the Computer & Communications Industry Association (of which Google, Amazon, Pandora are members) Cox Media Group, iHeartMedia (formerly Clear Channel), Salem Media Group, the National Association of Broadcasters (of which Cox, iHeart, Salem and Pandora are members), the Music Licensing Committee (of which Cox and Clear Channel are members), the Consumer Electronics Association (of which Amazon, Google and Pandora are members), the National Restaurant Association (which fought the performance royalty for songwriters whose music is performed in restaurants), the American Hotel and Lodging Association (which also fought the performance royalty for songwriters). And then there are the human shields at the Educational Media Foundation and, as David has pointed out, National Public Radio.
Crony capitalists with a combined market cap in excess of $2 trillion seeking protection for the special interests and aligned against artists and songwriters.
The restaurants have a particularly unsavory history on this point–their last effort to screw songwriters was with the highly controversial 1998 special interest legislation, the Fairness in Music Licensing Act. That debacle ended in a ruling against the United States in arbitration at the WTO that ruled that the restaurant special interest legislation violated a number of international laws as was predicted by then-Register of Copyright Marybeth Peters but ignored by the lobbyists and the Congress. The U.S. taxpayer has to pay $3.3 million in fines ordered by the tribunal and paid to European rights holders. So thanks to the restaurants, the Congress passed an illegal law requiring U.S. taxpayers to pay for foreign songwriters–millions and millions of taxpayer dollars. Would you like fries with that?
And if that dark history wasn’t enough, the whole group is organized by the Washington, DC shillery, Twin Logic Strategies–the brainpower behind the Internet Radio Fairness Act. This is “astroturf” in every sense of the word–a manufactured alliance to taint the Congress no doubt with threats and intimidation for anyone who would dare consider supporting the Fair Play Fair Pay Act. The Act accomplishes two main goals: pay artists in line with the rest of the world and stop Pandora and SiriusXM from screwing legacy artists with the pre-72 loophole. In other words, doing what all these companies and their lobbyists stand for–screwing artists and especially songwriters.
So we understand exactly what the unifying principle is behind this McCoalition–they don’t want to pay for music. And neither do the NPR stations that ask us to play for free as David has pointed out. Unfortunately, NPR’s “Policy and Representation division” doesn’t understand that when our friends at NPR ask us for freebies we’re happy to help because it is NPR doing the asking. Now that NPR has aligned itself with millionaires and billionaires, not to mention companies with trillions in market cap, NPR has made anyone who gives the freebies into a chump.
We all know that our friends at NPR are better than that. That’s why whistleblowers come to us. But as long as our friends at NPR aren’t allowed to publicly reject the suits, it does make you wonder what’s going on.
But now that the suits forced NPR to join the McCoalition–how much does that McCoaltion membership cost? And who paid it?