Thursday, May 21, 2015

BMI Wins A Royalty Fight With Pandora

As you probably know, BMI and ASCAP have been fighting with Pandora for quite a while over the performance royalty rate that Pandora pays.

The streaming service was paying 1.75% of it's total revenue to the performance rights organizations (PROs), which all of the organizations deemed an unacceptably low rate.

ASCAP managed to renegotiate that rate up to 1.85% in December, but now BMI has won an improvement on that up to 2.5% in the latest court ruling. BMI actually asked for 3.825% initially, but was only granted the lower number.

This was an interesting development for a couple of reasons. Songwriters and publishers will get paid more, which is always a good thing. But the fact was that BMI was forced into this since many large publishers like Sony/ATV, Universal Music Publishing, and BMG Publishing pulled out of BMI and renegotiated their own deals with Pandora. They also settled at the 2.5% mark.

The 2.5% rate is about a 33% increase, so songwriters and publishers can rejoice in that fact, but it's only for non-interactive part of the streaming business. Unfortunately more money is being collected on the interactive part of the business from services like Spotify, but that money flows through the record labels first instead of a PRO or publisher before it gets to the songwriter. Until that changes, songwriters will continue to get the short end of the royalty stick.

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