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BMI heads to the rate court over live industry royalties

By | Published on Wednesday 26 September 2018


US collecting society BMI has gone legal in a dispute with the North American Concert Promoters Association over what rates the US live industry should pay for staging public performances of its members’ songs.

The song right society says that is has been negotiating with reps for the American live sector for nearly five years to try to agree new rates. It wants to increase what its members receive when their songs are performed live, an increase which, it says, would bring its rates more inline with what is being paid to other societies, in both the US and beyond.

The American live sector generally pays much lower royalties to songwriters and music publishers than elsewhere in the world, and especially when compared with Europe. Even with the not insignificant increases BMI is now pushing for, rates would still generally be quite a bit lower than those charged by most European performing rights organisations.

BMI has now filed a petition in the federal rate court in a bid to seek a resolution. The society’s EVP of Licensing & Creative, Mike Steinberg, said yesterday: “The music created by songwriters and composers and enjoyed by American music fans is the backbone of the live concert industry, yet the rate paid to BMI for the use of its affiliates’ music vastly undervalues that contribution”.

He went on: “We have spent nearly five years attempting to finalise new rates with NACPA that more closely align with the higher rates NACPA members have already agreed to pay to other PROs, both internationally and in the US”.

“Instead”, he concluded, “NACPA is attempting to shortchange BMI affiliates and rely on outdated rates that do not reflect the evolution of the music industry or take in to account the expanded revenue streams that result from the performances of BMI music. We believe we have a compelling case and look forward to presenting our positions to the court”.