NPR reportedly withdraws from coalition seen as enemy to musicians’ cause

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NPR has reportedly withdrawn from the MIC Coalition, an organization that some critics say is fighting proposed new royalty payments to musicians for their songs’ airplay on radio.

Billboard reported Monday that NPR had withdrawn from MIC, citing an NPR spokesperson who declined to explain why the change occurred. Amazon pulled out of MIC last month, citing the coalition’s lack of focus on working toward transparency in royalty payments to musicians.

It’s difficult to figure out exactly what MIC’s stance is. Its website, which is less than forthcoming, doesn’t mention the Fair Play, Fair Pay Act, the proposed legislation introduced in April that would pay royalties to musicians for radio airplay. But backers of Fair Play, Fair Pay have alleged that quashing the legislation is one aim of MIC, whose members also include iHeartRadio, Pandora and the National Association of Broadcasters.

MusicFIRST, a musicians’ advocacy group that supports the legislation, praised NPR’s decision to withdraw from MIC. “When Amazon took the lead and left this anti-artist Coalition, after concluding the group was ‘consumed’ with lowering payments to musicians, musicFIRST called on NPR to leave as well, arguing that their association with them went against their strong record as both a partner to artists and a supporter of great music,” musicFIRST said in a statement. “Today, we applaud NPR for its willingness to listen and engage in a dialogue with musicians’ advocates. And we commend NPR’s decision to leave the MIC Coalition, separating itself from both the Coalition and its anti-artist agenda.”

Musician David Lowery, an outspoken critic of NPR on the issue, appeared on Current’s podcast The Pub last month to discuss musicians’ awkward stance on the matter. “We as artists . . . have some sort of special relationship to the public radio stations in the country,” he said. “It’s difficult when we find ourselves on the other side of a lobbying coalition from NPR. Just first of all, cognitively, that just seems weird to us right away.”