The Harry Fox Agency says its 2004 royalty collections came to $421 million, an increase of 6.2% over the previous year.

The Harry Fox Agency says its 2004 royalty collections came to $421 million, an increase of 6.2% over the previous year.

Gary Churgin, president/CEO of the U.S. licensing body, says the result was "better than we had budgeted and tracks along with the industry's movement."

The U.S. statutory mechanical rate rose Jan. 1, 2004, to 8.5 cents for songs under five minutes and $1.65 per minute for songs over five minutes. The previous rates were 8 cents and $1.55, respectively. The next rate increase is scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1, 2006.

HFA says it processed 2.3 million mechanical licenses during 2004, bringing the total number it administers to almost 8 million.

Looking forward, the organization says that 2005 "already promises to be a challenging year." It says its first quarter will reflect the decrease in album sales seen in the fourth quarter of 2004, compared to the fourth quarter of 2003.

HFA represents almost 28,000 U.S. music publishers.