Irving Azoff Says He’ll Bring Songwriters 30% More Royalties than ASCAP and BMI

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Sony/ATV Music Publishing recently said that they are considering a complete withdrawal from collection societies ASCAP and BMI, which collectively control about 95 percent of songs in the US.

Chairman and CEO Martin Bandier said Sony/ATV is concerned with how artists are being represented in the digital space and wanted to withdraw certain rights.  However, a recent court ruling has made it difficult to selectively withdraw rights, so Sony/ATV would have to pull out altogether.

Sony/ATV aren’t the only ones who are concerned about this. The New York Times reports that Irving Azoff has spent the last year signing some pretty big songwriters, including Pharrell Williams, Ryan Tedder, Benny Blanco, and members of Journey and Fleetwood Mac.

Azoff’s new venture is called Global Music Rights. It is part of Azoff MSG Entertainment, a joint venture with the Madison Square Garden Company. MSGC is considering splitting into two companies, one for sports and one for entertainment.Azoff says:

“I vowed when I started this company that I was going to take care of artists… So I tried to identify places where I felt that artists were not getting a fair deal, and the performance rights area jumped out at me. It was a place where I felt I could help our writers.”

Three anonymous sources say Azoff is telling clients that he can bring in up to 30 percent more in royalties from radio and online outlets than ASCAP and BMI.

Most of Global Music Rights’ clients still have contracts with ASCAP and BMI, but those contracts will soon begin to expire.

+ASCAP, BMI and SESAC Force Local Coffee Shop To Shut Down Live Music

Global Music Rights Executive Randy Grimmett, who was previously ASCAP’s EVP of Membership, says 40 million plays on Pandora only brings in $2,200 in publishing royalties under ASCAP and BMI.

BMI President Michael O’Neill thinks there’s nothing wrong with BMI’s methods:

“We believe that the departure of certain affiliates for such new organizations is driven not by any concern with this methodology… but, rather, by the latitude that these unregulated organizations have to address the needs of the modern rights marketplace.”


Nina Ulloa covers breaking news, tech, and more. Follow her on Twitter: @nine_u

18 Responses

    • FarePlay

      Don Henly on Irving Azoff: “Sure, he’s Satan. But he’s our Satan.”

      • Anonymous

        I’d like your opinion FarePlay.

        Do you really think that making live music more financially difficult to offer will be good for artists?

        Do you have some internal limit where you are like, fuck it, this has gone too far?

  1. Remi Swierczek

    Dear Mr. Azoff,
    Become my partner or promoter and we can increase music industry income by 300% in 24 months.
    Let’s just convert Radio and streaming …elevator too to plain music store.
    Pure music revenue, no ghost royalties from antiquated or government imposed sources.
    Best regards,

  2. Chris H

    He probably can extract a better price from online outlets, based on exclusivity. However, with radio, that’s very much an uphill climb. Radio holds off on adding those Pharrell spins on future works, we got a problem that come be overcome easily. He can hold out, but so can they.

    This only works with evergreen artists and top hitmakers. Anyone who is still under the radar or gone cold, forget it.

  3. doobywah

    I respect this guy. He seems like he actually gets it. I learned from his work with the Eagles after Geffen stole their songs.

    • stephen craig aristei

      Oh please do not make statements of which you know absolutely nothing about…..David Geffen never “stole” anyone’s songs…..You obviously know nothing about the industry or how it works….please stop… are repeating MTV – mindless, unsubstantiated Bull Shit and are embarrassing yourself…..!

  4. Kings Of spins

    Sorting out per-play income from the hundreds of USA FM and AM stations for artists/writers would be a major step forward for all. Its done in Europe and brings a significant amount of income back to the writers/artists.

    • smallmarketowner

      That’s not true any longer. Automated systems make it extremely easy to omit music from the data base, and print a report. As a very small market radio station owner, more fees (music rights/FCC) are killing us. I realize they are thinking of the big guys when they design these schemes, but it’s killing the small market stations. I for one would be perfectly willing to omit GMR’s clients from my playlist. I would hope the large market stations would do the same. If we don’t promote the artists, they won’t sell. It would be difficult for GMR to attract clients when stations aren’t playing their signed artists.

  5. No chance

    That Grimmett guy is a moron. Of course Pandora spins aren’t worth jack. The company has been losing millions per year since day one. How are you going to get blood out of that stone? If he’s banking on making more money out of the streaming space he can freaking forget about it. It will be interesting to see how fast the radio conglomerates blackball their bigger clients though. First we see Pandora steering listeners towards Merlin repped artists because their music is cheaper than SoundExchange stuff, and now these goofs think they’re going to launch a more expensive but less comprehensive licensing solution for broadcast radio? The same guys who made the Dixie Chicks disappear because they made a comment that was on the wrong end of the political spectrum, are going to increase their payouts just because they can’t live without Pharrell tracks?

  6. hippydog

    like others are saying..
    Your catalog better be darn good cause it can easily turn into a “meh.. we dont want your music”

    I’m gonna bet it wont take off..


    they had come out and said they were going to make a new PRO that is responsive and pays out a lot more fairly (unlike the current ones that still base payouts on radio play)
    and is truly Global..

    THAT might have got some traction..

    but.. “are goal is to increase payouts by 30%” …
    sorry.. aint gonna happen..

    • Anonymous

      The goal is to get some really important songwriters on board to they can quite literally make licensees “offers they can not refuse”.

  7. Anonymous

    Well the digital space is a mess for most and most certainly many people are not being represented at all!

    Everything all feels very groundhog day right now, very deja vu right now, like this exact moment has somehow happened before…. It just something seems very very peculiar at the moment, where you start slyly peering back and forth like a fox peruses the surrounding landscape for a larger predator before engaging in the pursuit of a small land rodent to pounce on and devour!

    Subterfuge tends to pop in the mind like a bubble bursts or perhaps a particle floating through the sky containing some secret message of some kind.

    Cant say for sure exactly what it is causing the certain feeling that can create the tension and bum puckering sensation that seems to be floating around, but it does have that funny aroma you often smell when those hairs on the back of your neck standup…

    The states certainly has a lot of gunslingers now dont it…

    Justin Mayer

  8. Anonymous

    Looks like coffeeshops offering live music are going to cut four different checks now. And you know that forth one ain’t gonna be small. 🙂

  9. TonsoTunez

    When reviewing Irving’s history, it appears that whenever he’s involved with anything everybody loses but Irving.

    And, that seems to be the case with the Madison Square Garden Company (MSGC) who has been suckered into putting up the money for Irving’s so-called PRO.

    Irving is using MSGC’s money to pay big advances to a max of 100 top name writers to whom he has guaranteed 30% more in royalties than they would have received from their former PROs. AND … equity in the company.

    What is the old saying, “If it sounds too good to be true …”?

    [SESAC’s recent settlement with the Television Music License Committee may make Irving’s +30% guarantee an impossibility.]

    Let’s take a look inside Irving’s PRO facade … They have no infrastructure, minimal staff, and have yet to secure a single license with any user. All they’ve done so far is hand out MSGC’s money.]

    The banter on this clip from Letterman – – is a direct result of Irving having moved the Eagles (whom he manages) to his so-called PRO. CBS has been told that they can’t use Eagles music until they pay an outlandish fee demanded Irving’s so-called PRO. CBS seems to have told Irving to screw off. And, think about it, who really needs the Eagles?

    In fact, who really needs any of the music Irving has scammed MSGC into paying for? In this day and age, it’s pretty easy to side step the hits of 100 brand name writers. There aren’t actually that many songs involved that anyone would miss if they simply disappeared from broadcast media, satellite or the legitimate Internet.

    What’s the other old cliche “Out of sight …”.

    Here’s a fun fact: Irving, as their manager, gets a percentage of the huge advances paid to the members of the Eagles with MSGC’s money. Same with the other writer artists he manages that he has moved into his so-called PRO.

    And, lest we forget, other vultures, like attorneys, agents, business managers, accountants, etc., always swoop in for their piece of flesh whenever big money is involved … so, really what is any writer actually gaining by making the move other than taking the chance that they will never be heard from again?

    It’s sure starting to look like MSGC and few rich, apparently unsophisticated, writers prodded by greedy self interested third parties have fallen into a trap that would make Charles Ponzi envious.

    I wonder if Irving’s so-called PRO is the reason MSGC is spinning off its entertainment division. The move may be being made to keep Irving from destroying MSGC’s highly profitable sports business.

    And, a final question: Why would MSGC get into this deal after Irving ripped them a new one with the Live Nation debacle?

    There appears to be something really sleazy going on here.

  10. hippydog

    Quote “There appears to be something really sleazy going on here.”

    lot of the stuff you mentioned I either didnt know or didnt think about..
    yes.. its def. looks sleazy..