While parody and humor are effective rhetorical tactics, their presence is a rare one in the halls of Congress and offices of the music industry’s many trade groups. Bucking that trend today is musicFIRST. That coalition, made up of various music industry trade groups including the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the American Association for Independent Music (A2IM), the Latin Recording Academy and the payment processing organization SoundExchange today unveiled their “remix” of the website for the MIC Coalition.
The MIC Coalition, which stands for “music.innovation.consumers,” is an organization with members such as the National Association of Broadcasters, the Consumer Electronics Association and the National Retail Federation, among others. According to its website, MIC seeks “ensure that consumers and consumer-serving businesses, such as retailers, restaurants and hotels have continued access to play music at affordable prices.”
musicFIRST’s parody takes a blunt stick to MIC’s central messaging — keeping royalty rates for digital and broadcasts low, transparent payment structures — renaming the group “Moneymakers Ignoring Creators” and asserting that the group is an “anti-artist coalition of radio tycoons, tech giants and some of the biggest and wealthiest corporations.” A source tells Billboard that the domain for the parody site — miccoalition.org, instead of the real group’s mic-coalition.org — was purchased shortly after MIC announced its formation, and that the parody was developed over the past few weeks.
In a statement to Billboard, MIC responded to the parody by saying that “the MIC Coalition [is] working towards a growing music marketplace… while musicFIRST pursues a strategy that misrepresents and misinforms. While it’s not surprising, it is unfortunate, in poor taste and breathtakingly short-sighted.”
Asked about MIC’s strategy, musicFIRST executive director Ted Kalo wonderd in an email to Billboard: “Why hasn’t this shadowy organization ever had a spokesperson speak on the record with reporters?”
This past summer, Amazon and National Public Radio both withdrew from MIC, with Amazon digital music exec Steve Boom telling Billboard at the time that his company “had a particular agenda topic that we were interested in, and that was transparency. What has become clear to us since MIC went public is that part of the agenda — transparency — is getting lost in the wilder noise surrounding rate-setting.”
Boom was referencing the Fair Play, Fair Pay legislation, introduced on April 13 of this year, which hopes to establish a royalty rate for terrestrial broadcasts. (Other than the U.S., the only countries that lack a terrestrial radio royalty are Iraq, North Korea and China.) musicFIRST has been a key player in drawing support for the bill — every page of the the group’s website loads a pop-up asking visitors to sign a letter of support for Fair Play Fair Pay. NPR did not comment on the reasons behind its withdrawal from MIC. In addition to sponsoring New York Democratic Congressman Jerrod Nadler, the bill has 22 co-sponsors.