It is a dynamic time in our industry; it is a time of experimentation and transformation of many of the models which have generated revenue for recorded music and for music publishing, impacting songwriters, composers, publishers, artists and labels alike. Throughout BMI’s nearly 75 years of representing writers and publishers, we have seen many challenges and opportunities to secure reliable and fair compensation for the creators of music. We have navigated through changing markets and the development of new outlets for the performance of music and created solutions which add value to the marketplace.
Recent articles in the trade and consumer press have covered the withdrawal of catalogs from performing rights organizations by music publishers for certain digital uses. These issues are complex, and I wanted to take a minute to clarify the positions and policies BMI has formulated to address this development.
Some BMI publishers have stated in the press that the main driver in their desire to withdraw their works for specific digital uses is to set their own pricing. Publishers have always had the right to directly license. In the case of withdrawal, they believe they may obtain higher royalty rates from this market if they negotiate their own agreements outside of BMI’s regulatory framework. By withdrawing works from BMI, publishers become the only entities that can license those works and therefore can deny permission to perform their works if they do not come to agreement on rates and terms. By contrast, BMI, under its Consent Decree, is required to automatically issue a license upon a request from a licensee, and if the parties are not able to negotiate a fee after a period of time, either party can initiate a rate-setting proceeding. The press has recently quoted sources stating that, by working outside of the major PROs’ regulatory framework, Sony ATV was able to increase their fees from Pandora by 25% versus the current rates of U.S. Performing Rights Organizations.