Friday, July 11, 2014

Threatening ASCAP and BMI

A month after the US Justice Department said it would review the decades-old regulatory agreements governing the music licensing agencies Ascap and BMI, the world’s biggest song publisher has threatened to end its relationship with those groups if the changes it wants are not made. The announcement, made by Sony/ATV Music Publishing — whose catalog of more than two million songs includes Beatles classics as well as current hits by Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga — comes as the music publishing world ponders major structural changes, in response to the rise of online streaming services like Pandora, Spotify and YouTube, which critics say pay too little in royalties.
In a letter to tens of thousands of Sony/ATV songwriters, Martin N. Bandier, the company’s chairman, addressed some of the issues facing the world of music publishing, including the Justice Department review and Ascap and BMI’s legal battles with Pandora over licensing. If those matters turn out badly for the publishing world, then Sony/ATV would consider “the potential complete withdrawal of all rights from Ascap and BMI,” Mr. Bandier wrote in the letter, sent Wednesday.

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