One of the most sensitive talking points at the UK’s recent music-streaming economics inquiry was publishing royalties. Specifically whether publishing should get a bigger share of the streaming pie, and – here’s the sensitive bit – whether the major music publishers were blocked from advocating for this because their parent companies (the major labels) had much better margins from recordings royalties.
Hipgnosis boss Merck Mercuriadis has been one of the most prominent executives voicing this theory, and now the boss of US publishing body the NMPA, David Israelite, has given him what for in the traditional manner (a Billboard op-ed).
“When he accuses the largest music publishers of not advocating for songwriters, he is dead wrong. The record needs to be set straight,” wrote Israelite. “I can attest without equivocation that “major” music publishers fight equally as hard to promote songwriters and the value of songs as their independent publisher colleagues. In fact, I have never experienced a single instance when the interests of a record label or parent corporation in any way inhibited that advocacy.”
The piece outlines his proof, from CRB rates to forcing fitness, social media and gaming firms to the negotiating table. Also interesting, though, is Israelite’s willingness to admit that publishing *does* deserve a bigger share. “I’ve watched the value gap between record labels and publishers in records go from around 12:1 to 3.8:1 today, which still is not close enough, but is a testament to what we can achieve when united…”