Whenever a major label executive waxes about simplified licensing and greater transparency, it’s difficult to keep a straight face.
After all, dozens of startups have perished in a quagmire of licensing complications and lawsuits – even while playing it legit. Which is why a move towards licensing simplification by EMI Music Publishing this week is best treated with some cautious optimism.
But there’s definitely something happening here. The publishing group has now decided to consolidate digital rights on a substantive portion of its catalog, particularly digital performance rights as currently handled by ASCAP. Specifically, this involves the 200,000-strong EMI April Music catalog, which EMI has now assumed exclusive performance rights jurisdication on a global basis. Non-digital outlets will still be handled by ASCAP.
That creates a bundled licensing opportunity for synch, performance, and mechanical rights. “By bringing these rights back together our aim is to reduce the burden of licensing, to create greater efficiency and importantly to reduce the barriers to the development of innovative new services,” EMI Music Publishing Chairman & CEO Roger Faxon relayed. “That absolutely has to be in the interest of everybody involved in the process – songwriters, licensees and consumers alike.”
So, let’s toast to simpler licensing times ahead? Perhaps, though this would have to be the first of many similar moves. And, the extreme instability of EMI – publishing or otherwise – puts this initiative into question. Let’s see.