A New Era Of Unity

June 05, 2009 -- 2:50 pm PDT

The Recording Academy's Neil Portnow, RIAA's Mitch Bainwol and NMPA's David Israelite on coming together for the sake of music


(The following is an editorial by Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow, RIAA Chairman/CEO Mitch Bainwol and NMPA President/CEO David Israelite from the May 23 issue of Billboard.)

The creation of music is rarely a solitary experience. It requires tremendous collaboration to bring a song from a writer's pen to a listener's ears.

The same is true for the music business. Without harmony among the various members of our community, we are vulnerable to discord that can hold back our mutual aspirations. Fortunately, the long-fragmented industry has found ways to work together in recent years, joining hands in unprecedented fashion and achieving results.

Each of us represents a different constituency within the music community: labels, music publishers and recording artists. Together with the heads of other trade groups representing nearly every sector of the industry, we've all been working together in ways that were once unthinkable. Consider:

The U.S. Copyright Office recently published mechanical rates for interactive streaming and limited downloads. Unresolved for more than seven years, the establishment of the new rates was the result of a landmark agreement partly developed at a summit of the trade group CEOs. Subsequent negotiations led to a solution that will allow new business models to flourish while providing fair compensation to all parties.

The recording and music publishing industries agreed to resolve a decades-long division over a terrestrial radio performance right, with publishing interests agreeing not to oppose legislation currently before Congress that would establish that right.

Label representatives agreed not to oppose efforts by songwriters and music publishers to establish that there's a performance right in an audiovisual download.

The CEOs of every music trade association lobbied together last fall in Washington, D.C., for the first time as a single voice to help pass copyright enforcement legislation. That bill, held up in Congress for more than a year, passed the House and Senate 10 days after our meetings and was subsequently signed into law.

This new spirit of cooperation emerged through meetings of leaders of all key music trade groups. We had a simple goal in mind: to develop a productive framework for regular discussions at the highest levels in each sector of the music community.

When we began our meetings nearly four years ago, the need for such discussion was clear. Our industry was wracked by infighting and during our visits to Congress we would hear a consistent refrain from policymakers: "Don't expect us to solve your problems; agree as an industry on solutions and we will implement them."

We took those words to heart, and the significant accomplishments listed above are a testament to our collective resolve. As our community works together to continue the transition to a digital marketplace, cooperation is more important than ever. This new era of unity among the following organizations will produce great results for music creators and music fans:

American Association of Independent Music, American Federation of Musicians, AFTRA, ASCAP, BMI, Church Music Publishers' Association–Action Fund, Gospel Music Association, Harry Fox Agency, Music Managers Forum–US, National Music Publishers' Association, National Songwriters Association, The Recording Academy, RIAA, Rhythm & Blues Foundation, SESAC, Songwriters Guild of America, and SoundExchange.