BMI pays $814 in royalties last year, ASCAP fires at Pandora Radio, and Steve Albini’s 4-page letter to Nirvana all make music industry headlines
BMI Makes Highest Annual Royalty Payments in Company History
Performance rights organization BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.) reports new records for royalty distributions and revenue for the fiscal year that ended on June 30th. The “historic high royalty distribution of $814 million to BMI-affiliated songwriters, composers and music publishers” marks a 9% increase from the previous year. The music industry icon’s revenues topped $944 million, a 5% gain over the year before. BMI and other PROs monitor clubs, venues, theaters, and the airwaves and keep track of who plays what songs and how many times. They collect performance fees (which vary according to the approximate listenership of each station or size of each venue) and distribute this money to the writers who are registered with them.
According to the BMI website, this increase is attributable to its “consistent focus on building diversity in revenue sources, along with the successful implementation of a cost reduction program… This represents the largest fiscal year revenue posted and royalties distributed in the company’s 74 years of operation and tops a five-year period in which BMI generated more than $4.5 billion in revenues and paid out royalties of $4 billion.”
Read more at BMI.com.
ASCAP asserts “Pandora is attacking songwriters”
While the Internet Radio Fairness Act may be hibernating, the debate over royalty rates from music streaming services continues to run hot in the music industry. ASCAP (The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) – a PRO that represents over 470,000 songwriters, composers, and music publishers – is taking a firm stand against Pandora Internet Radio, claiming that “The rights of songwriters are under attack.” ASCAP has a petition online, and is asking songwriters to sign the petition and send a message to incoming Pandora CEO Brian McAndrews.
From ASCAP’s website: “Pandora Media Inc., which controls 70% of the US music streaming market, has launched an aggressive campaign to pay songwriters and composers less than a fair market share for their work – even as the company’s revenue and listener base has soared… Right now, a song that is streamed on Pandora 1,000 times earns the songwriter only eight cents on average. And yet, Pandora is going to great lengths – even taking songwriters to court – to pay us even less… Songwriters deserve fair pay. If you agree, commit a tweet and help send this message.”
Read more and sign the petition, driven by crowd-speaking platform Thunderclap, at ASCAP.com.
Steve Albini’s letter to Nirvana
It’s the 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s third and final studio release, In Utero, and among the items included in the new “Super Deluxe” box-set is a four-page letter from producer Steve Albini in which he pitches the band his services. There are many notable passages, including the fact that he wanted to record the album in one week (it ultimately took 10 days), that he refused to take “points” on the album (“I would like to be paid like a plumber,” he writes), and that he wasn’t seeking the job to provide an “increase in business” from being associated with the band.
The album has left its mark for various (and obvious) reasons, and Albini’s choice as producer was one of the points of controversy. SPIN.com has posted a copy of Albini’s fax as well as a review of the box set.
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