Oops: Government Subsidized Satellite Broadcasting Monopoly Sirius Decries Lack of Competition Among Rightsholders

Someone somewhere at Sirius is not thinking clearly.  For some reason. We are not sure why. 

Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei should maybe head over to the Sirius Washington DC communicastions shop and make sure they aren’t smoking weed with Joe Rogan and Elon Musk.

Chris Castle at MusicTechPolicy reports that Sirius opined in a recent op ed that regulators might want to consider existence of anti-competive monopolies in the music industry when making new policy.  We agree!

Using Forks and Knives to Eat Their Bacon: More Misdirection and Dodgeball from SiriusXM

We are gonna cover this strategic blunder by Sirius in more detail later.  But for now suffice it to say, it’s pretty stupid to make the argument that there is a lack of competition among record labels when Sirius is in fact a monopoly.  Not just any monopoly but a monopoly that relies on federal compulsory licenses that demand recording owners/performers/songwriters license to Sirius at a below market rates.

Further Liberty Media seems to be angling to combine Sirius, Pandora, LiveNation-Ticketmaster and even IHeartRadio into a single company.  You sure you want to bring up the competition issue? The public outcry to AT&T – Warner tie up was huge!  Imagine the difficulty for this merger. That said I’m probably in the minority but depending on how it is done, I don’t necessarily think that a tie up of these properties is necessarily bad for artists. For one I’d like to see some real competition for Apple, YouTube and Spotify.  However in order to do this Sirius and Liberty would need to get artists (and seemingly its own radio hosts!) on board. They’d need a really compelling vision.  Nickel and diming rights holders, performers and songwriters on the MMA is absolutely counterproductive.

This is a losing strategy. Stop. Consider this an intervention. Put the pipe down.

You see the thing is Sirius has a point when it complains it is treated differently than its competitors on terrestrial radio. Terrestrial radio pays no royalties to performers.  This should be fixed. Performers and labels are allied with Sirius on this point.  Over the long term correcting this bit of unfair competition is more relevant to Sirius shareholders than trying to create single company carve outs in the proposed Music Modernization act.

Then there is the matter of what the real world looks like outside the beltway. Sirius, senators and music industry lobbying groups are not looking at the unintended consequences. As each successive special interest group adds a new carve out, support for the Music Modernization Act decreases among musicians and songwriters.  Don’t listen to inside the beltway experts. This blog has a better sense of what rank and file performers and songwriters are really thinking. The MMA seems at a tipping point with the rank and file. Something could easily tip that balance against.  Indie performers and songwriters still have options.  A single Senator could put a hold on a bill.  Already there is an ad hoc group of free market songwriters that have coalesced around Cornyn, Lee and Cruz.

It might not even be performers/songwriters that derail this bill.  This will go back to Rep Nadler in the house.  Gutting the MMA is not gonna sit well with Nadler. Especially as the pre-72 “Classics” provision was his baby. He is likely to become committeechairman in January. I’ll bet real money he drops the bill if it goes against his long held principles on Pre-1972s.

He knows what most rank and file performers know:

Performers/Songwriters don’t need the MMA. We will always have Paris.  And lawsuits. Digital services are the ones out of compliance with the law. Not rightsholders. The status quo works for rightsholders.  Further the Spotify/Sirius/XM class actions have demonstrated that there is an army of class action lawyers out there ready to take up our cause. So did we file 5 or 6 class action lawsuits? In all the excitement we lost count.