MICHAEL O’NEILL, 56
Last Year’s Rank: 68
ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE YEAR: With over $2 billion combined in collections and payouts totaling $1.9 billion, these two performing rights organizations spent 2017 fighting for higher digital rates for songwriters, with BMI doing so in court and ASCAP going to the halls of Congress.
TRIALS AND EXULTATIONS: BMI led the industry in a major legal victory against the U.S. Department of Justice and its effort to end fractional licensing, “which would have meant chaos,” says O’Neill. The typically highly competitive PROs teamed up to further that win, announcing a joint database that will streamline licensing for 90 percent of all music (about 20 million tracks). Among them, the tunes that earned ASCAP songwriters 262 Grammy Award nominations, “more than any other PRO,” says Matthews.