BMI Took a $60 Million COVID Hit During the First Half of 2020

BMI Files Petition Against North American Concerts Promoters Association (NACPA)
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BMI suffered an estimated $60 million “negative impact” during its 2020 fiscal year, but nevertheless distributed all-time-high royalties to its member songwriters, producers, and composers.

The New York City-headquartered PRO recently detailed its FY 2020 performance in a formal release, which was shared with Digital Music News. During the 12 months ending on June 30th, BMI generated $1.311 billion, a $28 million (approximately 2.2 percent) increase from 2019.

Additionally, the 81-year-old entity specified that it distributed $1.233 billion (roughly 94 percent) of this sum to its members. The royalty payout represents a $37 million (about three percent) boost from that of the 2019 fiscal year.

Domestically, BMI reported total earnings of $961 million – marking an $18 million (two percent) jump from 2019 in spite of the COVID-19 crisis and its far-reaching economic effects. Company officials attributed the relatively encouraging data to “strong growth” within digital and radio, and evidently, this hike was substantial enough to offset licensing declines in venues, retail establishments, bars, and more.

At $155 million, radio revenue was up $27 million (21 percent) from FY 2019, while digital revenue experienced a $42 million (16 percent) stateside uptick, closing at $304 million. The release cited BMI’s early-2020 settlement with the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC) as one of the factors that resulted in radio’s boost; the agreement encompassed three years’ worth of retroactive royalties and will run through 2021. And with its approximately one-third of BMI’s U.S. income, digital outperformed all other licensing spheres for the very first time.

BMI higher-ups also noted “strong growth” in subscription streaming services, which have received heightened use amid the pandemic, besides mentioning their organization’s inking “new digital audiovisual licensing agreements,” including with Disney+, Apple TV+, and HBO Max.

Stateside cable and satellite television licensing revenue came in at $271 million during BMI’s 2020 fiscal year, whereas international earnings cracked $350 million (up $10 million from FY 2019). And predictably, general licensing and “other income” dipped $39 million (23 percent) from the prior 12 months.

Lastly, BMI added almost 100,000 members to its ranks on the year – including Tame Impala and Chance the Rapper – and extended agreements with Elton John, Willie Nelson, Lil Wayne, Khalid, Marshmello, and Ellie Goulding, among many others. The BMI library now consists of over 17 million works.

In recent weeks, we’ve covered several companies’ better-than-expected financial reports. Both YouTube and Spotify witnessed coronavirus-fueled downturns in quarterly advertising revenue, for instance, but YouTube’s Q2 income grew 5.8 percent year over year. Spotify missed quarterly revenue estimates in Q2, though its earnings surged 13 percent from the same period in 2019, and premium subscriber growth improved from Q1 2020.