ASCAP Rips BMI Over For-Profit Model, Reported Sales Talks: ‘Private Equity Never Wrote An Iconic Love Song’

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Singer-songwriter Sharon Anne. Photo Credit: Sincerely Media

As Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) reportedly continues to explore a sale, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) has ripped the rival performing rights organization (PRO) and emphasized its own status as a non-profit.

ASCAP took aim at BMI’s business model and rumored sales ambitions in a series of recently published social media posts. For background, early 2022 saw the latter PRO tap Goldman Sachs to assist in capturing revenue-centered “strategic opportunities” – including a possible multibillion-dollar sale.

But in August of 2022, the entity, evidently unable to find a suitable buyer willing to shell out a fortune for an operation that’s subject to a far-reaching consent decree, put an end to the push for a sale. That same month, execs went ahead and announced a layoff round, which reportedly reached 10 percent of BMI’s team.

Lastly, in terms of pertinent background details, BMI revealed record fiscal-year revenue and distributions in September of 2022 before officially pivoting to a for-profit model in October. Subsequently, upon disclosing record 2022 financials of its own, ASCAP touted itself as “the only performing rights organization in the US that operates on a not-for-profit basis.”

Now, with BMI having rekindled sales talks in 2023 – and while higher-ups reportedly consider a $1.7 billion offer from private equity firm New Mountain Capital – ASCAP has doubled down on its attempt to get an edge on the competing PRO.

Though the relevant social posts don’t seem to mention BMI by name, the messages at hand are rather conspicuously directed towards the organization – and songwriters who may be considering jumping ship.

“Behind every hit is a songwriter that deserves to make a living,” proclaims the description of one such post. “No private equity or outside investors means YOU get paid first. ASCAP has proven operating on a not-for-profit basis can deliver industry-leading innovation, growth and record-breaking financial results for members. Join our community for FREE today at the 🔗 in our bio.”

Driving home the point, an accompanying image includes all-caps text reading “Private equity never wrote an iconic love song.”

“We’re led by music creators like you,” another post communicates. “ASCAP is the only PRO in the US founded and governed by songwriters, composers and music publishers. Every decision about how we operate is made by music creators like you – not broadcasters, corporations and investors, like our competitors.”

“ASCAP. Creators first. Not for profit. Not for sale,” the text featured on another image states, with a different picture yet highlighting a self-described effort to realize “growth without greed.”

Moving forward, it’ll be worth monitoring the progress of BMI’s reported sales discussions as well as the headway that ASCAP makes in wooing away members. (BMI represents north of 1.3 million songwriters, composers, and publishers, per its website.) More immediately, BMI didn’t appear to have publicly fired back against ASCAP’s messages at the time of this writing.