BMI Settles Their Rate Dispute With Major Radio Broadcasters — Irving Azoff’s War Continues

BMI and the RMLC have finally settled their pricing dispute; new deal covers 2017-2021.

Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), one of the leading US-based performing rights organizations, has settled a long-running pricing disagreement with the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC), which represents roughly 10,000 commercial radio stations in America.

The multi-year deal will be in place until the end of 2021, having also established the royalty framework for 2017 through the present day. In a statement, BMI President and CEO Mike O’Neil said that the new contract “reflects a much more appropriate value for our affiliates’ music.” The RMLC’s Ed Atsinger indicated that “the radio industry believes strongly that songwriters should be compensated fairly.”

As part of the agreement, the RMLC will provide BMI with a one-time payment for legal fees. In an effort to prevent future conflict, the contract more thoroughly defines the licensing fees associated with streaming, simulcast broadcasting, and podcasts.

The RMLC has long been engaged in a separate legal dispute, with Irving Azoff’s Global Music Rights (GMR), a recently-formed PRO largely representing superstar catalogs.

Azoff, a former Ticketmaster Chairman and longtime artist manager, has convinced Metallica, Bruce Springsteen, Bruno Mars, and others to sign deals with GMR.

RMLC claims that GMR is attempting to extort exorbitant royalties for its represented artists, while GMR higher-ups say that they are seeking fair compensation for their members. In April 2019, GMR successfully convinced Judge C. Darnell Jones II to transfer the case to a Los Angeles courtroom. Surprisingly, the U.S. Department of Justice has weighed in on the side of GMR, though this case could lumber on for years.

BMI was founded in 1939 and has approximately 900,000 songwriters in its ranks, including Taylor Swift, Demi Lovato, and Ed Sheeran, among others. In 2018, the organization distributed over $1.12 billion worth of royalties to its artists. The RMLC, which is based out of Nashville, aims “to achieve fair and reasonable license fees with the music licensing organizations on behalf of radio stations.”

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