Behind the Deal: Israelite To Set Tone For NMPA

The National Music Publishers' Assn. envisions a transformation under David Israelite, its new president/CEO.

The National Music Publishers' Assn. envisions a transformation under David Israelite, its new president/CEO.

Israelite was deputy chief of staff for former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and headed the Department of Justice's Intellectual Property Task Force. He succeeded Edward Murphy at the NMPA's helm Feb. 7.

While the responsibilities of the NMPA's chief executive have not changed, the way in which Israelite will execute the group's policies -- as set by the NMPA board of directors -- will be new, says Irwin Robinson, NMPA chairman and Famous Music chairman/CEO.

Israelite will negotiate rates and issues while building relationships; advocate members' interests in Washington, D.C.; work with international organizations to protect American publishers' interests; and act as the trade group's face to its members and songwriters, Robinson explains.

The president/CEO's first task is moving the organization's headquarters from New York to Washington, D.C. He has already begun setting up shop and meeting with the NMPA board, which comprises 18 executives from major and independent publishers.

"It's a unique time in the organization's development," Israelite says. "There are so many issues in Congress, the courts, the administration and the industry with digital transformation. It's exciting."

Recording Industry Assn. of America chairman/CEO Mitch Bainwol says the coming year will be defined in part by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer vs. Grokster case, set for oral argument March 29.

Legislative action should follow the High Court's decision, which is expected this summer.

The NMPA's new approach will be seen in its response to these events and a number of rate-setting issues. Past legislative efforts focused on "interfering with legislation that publishers didn't want," Robinson says. "Now it's a changing environment."

He explains that publishers must make sure that any proposed legislation reflects their interests. The NMPA must also watch its back, Robinson says, to ensure that some measure attached to an unrelated bill does not detrimentally affect the association's members.

Bainwol notes that Israelite, whom he has known for nearly a decade, is especially astute when it comes to promoting an agenda. "In the world of public policy, he's a real rock star," Bainwol says.

Israelite says the NMPA will have significant interaction with outside consultants in Washington. While the consultants will play the part of lobbyists, they will also work on negotiations, using their technical expertise and vision on issues, helping to plot strategy and working with other organizations.

The NMPA board was unanimous in its support for Israelite, Robinson says. "His negotiating prowess, his knowledge of intellectual property and his ability to walk the halls of Washington in a different way than we have in the past are very potent."

Entertainment industry executives and Capitol Hill leaders who know Israelite consistently describe him as a Washington insider, a lawyer with tremendous knowledge of intellectual property, a keen strategist and someone who is easy to work with.

Israelite ran the successful 1998 re-election campaign for Sen. Christopher Bond, a Republican from Israelite's home state of Missouri. "His strategies are very well-thought-out and very refined," Bond says. "When executing these strategies, he's very knowledgeable, very easy to deal with and pleasant."

Another Missouri Republican, Sen. Jim Talent, echoes these thoughts, noting that Israelite has helped him through the years by sharing successful strategies.

Republicans are not the only ones who applaud the NMPA's choice. Dan Glickman became president/CEO of the Motion Picture Assn. of America late last year "as a Democrat heading a trade group when there weren't a lot of Democrats in government." He especially appreciates Israelite's consideration and helpfulness in dealing with piracy issues.

"David is one of the most talented people I've met in Washington," Glickman says.

Longtime entertainment industry champion Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., praises Israelite's appointment. Predicting that the Democrats will regain the majority in two years, Berman says, "David has the right kind of personality and skills so that he'll still do well when we're in control."


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