BMI’s Timeline Through History

Longstanding. Groundbreaking. Game Changing.

Each year, BMI renews our commitment to stay true to our original mission set forth in 1939: to provide businesses with a robust and competitive source of licensing, while supporting the creators who deliver the world’s most compelling music. Explore BMI’s history with this timeline, as we build upon it to create an even brighter future.



Hank Williams

BMI is founded by a group of radio industry leaders meeting in September at the National Association of Broadcasters annual convention in Chicago. The move is prompted by ASCAP requesting to double license fees to the radio industry in a new five-year contract. The founding meeting is chaired by NAB President Neville Miller. The BMI business plan is presented by brilliant young CBS lawyer Sydney Kaye, a leading authority on copyright. The Kaye blueprint proposes that broadcasters purchase BMI stock to provide seed money for the new organization. Kaye secures a charter for BMI from the state of New York, effective October 14, 1939.



BMI Music Stand Logo 1940

On February 15, Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) opens offices at 580 5th Ave. in New York City and is declared operational. Neville Miller becomes President, Kaye is elected operating head and attorney, and experienced broadcaster and sales executive, Carl Haverlin, is hired to direct station relations.

Its open door policy sets it apart. BMI welcomes all individuals, regardless of their chosen musical genre, and, unlike ASCAP, even if they have no established successful material.

At the time, most music on radio is performed by live orchestras and entertainers. BMI immediately begins providing new repertoire for radio broadcasts, printing one new popular song a day and 25 new arrangements of public domain music. BMI rapidly builds its catalog, establishing itself as a competitive source of music. Prominent Tin Pan Alley publisher E.B. Marks is one of the first firms to leave ASCAP and join BMI. The firm’s arrival swells the number of BMI-licensed copyrights, as do Latin, blues and country music songs published by Ralph Peer, whose international catalog proves especially valuable in helping BMI get started. Other major name publishers to join include M.M. Cole and American Music.

By September, BMI has 220 full-time employees. America has about 800 radio stations and by year’s end a total of 660 stations have signed with BMI.

On October 15, BMI holds its first stockholders’ meeting and reports that it has obtained the performing rights to more than twenty-five thousand compositions.

ASCAP’s five-year radio contract runs out at midnight on December 31, and except for about 200 small stations that had worked out license agreements, broadcasters can no longer use its music. The press calls it a “blackout” or “ban,” but it is, in fact, illegal for broadcasters to air ASCAP music. For most of the following year, most radio stations use only BMI-licensed songs or public domain material.


In May, the radio industry reaches a settlement with ASCAP, ending the 11-month battle and returning ASCAP’s music to America’s airwaves. With settlements reached, some radio leaders question the need for BMI. Others, though, see the need to continue opening doors for new music. Carl Haverlin tours the nation as Director of Station Relations, convincing hundreds of radio stations to renew their BMI licenses, as well as signing up new stations. Haverlin also spearheads BMI’s quest to license more non-radio venues for music, such as hotels, nightclubs and skating rinks.

Robert J. Burton, a Columbia Law School trained attorney and copyright expert, joins BMI as Junior House Counsel.

BMI offices open at 1549 North Vine Street, Hollywood, California, strategically located near all the major motion picture studios, the NBC and CBS radio network offices and the major nightclubs of the day.


Woody Guthrie

BMI pioneers a new system for royalty payment based on a nationwide sample of music on all independent radio stations, and a census of music use on networks. This permits BMI to compensate the growing community of independent publishers representing work written by bandleaders and small record labels in R&B, blues, country, folk and Latin music that are surging in popularity. BMI’s early interest in country music, a genre that had heretofore been ignored or denigrated as “hillbilly” music, leads it to sign landmark agreements with Acuff-Rose Publications, headquartered in Nashville, and Hill and Range Songs, headquartered in New York.


Robert J. Burton is promoted to Director of Publisher Relations; he later becomes Vice President of Domestic Performing Rights, and, in 1964, President of BMI.


BMI continues to play a proactive role in country music’s ascendance into the public arena, while Billboard magazine starts to trace the presence of the genre on jukeboxes.


Carl Haverlin develops ever closer ties between BMI and radio broadcasters by offering clinics and programing seminars across the country for station employees, aimed at promoting greater use of BMI repertoire and improving listenership by recognizing the public’s growing interest in diverse musical styles. The program would become a mainstay of BMI’s business model over the next two decades, and be augmented with the offering of educational brochures, repertoire reviews and other “how-to” publications for broadcasters.


BMI conducts “American Day at BMI,” a conference to discuss the changeover of radio’s function from its wartime function to a peacetime role.

BMI extends its licensing activities from just radio broadcasting to include nightclubs, restaurants, bars, grills, taverns and dance halls that use live music for entertainment purposes.


Willie Dixon

Carl Haverlin becomes President of BMI.

Technological improvements in tape recording and the ready flow of entrepreneurial capital leads to the formation of dozens of new “independent” record labels, including Atlantic Records in 1947 and Chess Records in 1949. Both tap into the burgeoning urban markets that the major labels had largely ignored. They record the primarily African-American creators of what would soon become known as rhythm & blues, a precursor to rock and roll.


Richard Kirk is hired at BMI, eventually taking on the role of overseeing Writer/Publisher Relations for the Hollywood office. Almost singlehandedly, Kirk establishes BMI as a presence in the field of motion picture and television music, including not only featured songs and themes, but also background music essential to film and TV productions. Hugo Friedhofer (Casablanca), Cy Mockridge (Guys and Dolls), Stanley Wilson (The Munsters), Bernard Herrmann (Psycho), John Williams (Star Wars), Jerry Goldsmith (Star Trek), Lalo Schifrin (Mission Impossible), Mike Post (NYPD Blue), and Artie Kane (Eyes of Laura Mars) are just some of the prominent composers Kirk signed to BMI. Today, the Richard Kirk Award is bestowed on composers who have made significant contributions to the realm of film and television music.


The designation “rhythm & blues” makes its appearance in Billboard, laying to rest the derogatory designation “race music” that had been used to categorize blues and other black musical forms. Racial segregation of music consumers and producers still exist, but the acceptance of black music by white listeners helps erode long-standing social barriers. BMI stands virtually alone in representing the performing rights of R&B creators and publishers, licensing more than 90 percent of R&B radio hits on a weekly basis.

Thomas “Georgia Tom” Dorsey
Gospel musicians like Tommy Dorsey grow more popular than ever. Gospel, R&B and country musical influences fuse to give birth to a new genre that will sweep America and the world – rock and roll. BMI represents virtually all of the founders of the genre.

Speaking at a Grand Ole Opry celebration in Nashville, Carl Haverlin sees the future of music “seeking its own level. . .an amalgamation of musical styles has begun, and it will end with American music finding its own unique character.”

Approaching its 10th anniversary, BMI salutes its broadcast heritage by hosting a dinner for broadcast shareholders attending the annual NAB convention, beginning a tradition that continues to the present day.



On July 5, former disc jockey and radio engineer Sam Phillips opens a small recording studio in downtown Memphis and starts recording local blues musicians, leasing the tracks to independent record companies like Chess. Two years later, he starts his own record label, Sun Records. Long in search of a young white artist who could capture the raw energy of black music yet crossover to a multi-ethnic audience, he finds that in 19-year-old Elvis Presley. Phillips will become a BMI publisher and Presley a BMI songwriter.


Roy Acuff

For the first time, BMI music takes the top three places on Billboard’s “Honor Roll of Hits.”

BMI is asked to provide the banquet entertainment for the annual broadcasters’ convention in Chicago. The show is built around the then-current hit “Tennessee Waltz” and features Roy Acuff, Pee Wee King and His Golden West Cowboys, Red Foley, the Dinning Sisters and other stars from Nashville. It is the first time that country music has been presented to an audience of the nation’s leading broadcasters and ad agencies.

The BMI Student Composer Competition is established in cooperation with music educators and composers. Cash prizes are awarded to encourage the creation of concert music by student composers and to aid in their musical education. The Student Composer Awards are still held annually and are celebrating their 62nd anniversary this year.


As country, R&B, and rock and roll surge on the airwaves, BMI music begins to dominate the charts. BMI songs capture the first 5 places on Your Hit Parade in March 1952. Cashbox magazine, a successful competitor to Billboard, puts BMI music at 81.8 percent to ASCAP’s 18.2 percent in the pop, country and R&B categories that are favorites on America’s jukeboxes, a sudden and dramatic reversal of roles for the two performing rights organizations.

Ray Charles

Thea Zavin joins BMI as Resident Counsel and heads the company’s Legal Department for many years. Throughout her nearly 50 years of service, she leads the support of copyright protection on behalf of songwriters and publishers, also serving as President of the Copyright Society of the USA and a member of the CISAC (International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers) Legal and Legislative Committee and the Copyright Office Advisory Committee.

Ray Charles starts recording with Atlantic Records, by then a small record label that could give special attention to the promising artist. Charles, like Sam Cooke, brings gospel fervor to R&B, changing the sound of that genre forever with hits like “I Got a Woman” and “What’d I Say.” Frank Sinatra once called Charles “the only genius in the business.”


In what music historians call “the War on Rock and Roll,” a group of 30 ASCAP songwriters calling themselves “the Songwriters of America” initiate a $150 million anti-trust action against BMI, NBC, CBS, ABC, RCA Victor Records, Columbia Records, and 27 individuals, claiming that a conspiracy of broadcasters and record manufacturers was keeping “good music” from being recorded and played on the air. Their sweeping charges could not be substantiated, and, more than 15 years and millions of dollars in legal and research fees later, the suit was dismissed with prejudice - meaning that it couldn’t be brought again.

In the interim, the plaintiffs continued their efforts to grab headlines and the attention of Congress. They found a sympathetic ear in Congressman Emanuel Celler, Chairman of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee. In hearings conducted during this time, the Songwriters of America made impassioned accusations against BMI, condemning rock and roll and all the music that BMI represented. Dozens of BMI writers and publishers - including Governor Jimmie Davis, Sam Phillips, Nat King Cole and opera singer Anna Moffo - rallied in BMI’s defense, appearing before the Congressional committee and writing letters of support. After dozens of witnesses and 1,200 pages of testimony, the anti-BMI bill stalled in the Senate sub-committee and died. Undaunted, and with continued backing by the ASCAP writers, the Celler Committee, without specific recommendations, referred the matter to the Justice Department, which declined to pursue it in the courts.

The war on BMI and rock and roll continued into the early 1960s with a Congressional investigation into “payola” - paying disc jockeys to play certain records - an investigation that some hoped would implicate BMI. It did not.

BMI holds its first annual Country Awards event, a luncheon featuring live music by Nashville’s best musicians. Awards are presented to country music writers and publishers; Hank Williams is the event’s big winner. The BMI Country Awards are not only the first to salute country songwriters, but the first to honor Nashville music makers in any way.


BMI Concert Music Department opens; Oliver Daniel is named first Director, and begins building what will become a legendary roster of classical music composers, including giants such as Charles Ives, William Bolcom and Gunther Schuller.


Roy Orbison

Elvis Presley signs with RCA Victor Records, which buys Presley’s contract from Sam Phillips for the unprecedented sum of $40,000. With his first RCA release, “Heartbreak Hotel” - written with Mae Axton and Tommy Durden - Elvis tops the country and pop charts, selling a million copies almost overnight. Elvis goes on to become the catalyst for the rock and roll revolution and the biggest record seller of all time. Phillips goes on to record such rock and roll pioneers as Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and Charlie Rich, all BMI songwriters.


Elvis Presley joins BMI. He begins appearing on network television, first on the Dorsey Brothers Stage Show, then on Steve Allen’s program, and, ultimately, on Ed Sullivan’s top-rated Sunday evening variety program. He is an immediate, resounding success, generating the highest audience share ever for Sullivan’s show. In quick succession, other rock and roll performers follow him, including Jerry Lee Lewis, the Everly Brothers and Buddy Holly, affiliating with BMI and reaching the top of the charts.


Boudleaux and Felice Bryant win a BMI Award of Achievement for their song “Bye Bye Love.” The BMI Awards are given annually to those writers and publishers whose BMI-licensed songs are listed on Your Hit Parade, or on listings of hit tunes in major trade papers, as measured by record sales, coin machine plays, sheet music sales and radio performances.

Paul Simon joins BMI.


BMI hires Frances W. Preston to head and manage the brand-new Nashville office. Reportedly, she is the first female corporate executive in Tennessee, and the first fulltime performing rights organization-representative in the South.

John Lewis, Musical Director of the School of Jazz in Lenox, Massachusetts, announces that Arif Mardin of Istanbul, Turkey, has been awarded the 1958 BMI scholarship in jazz composition, the first award by BMI to a jazz composer and the first scholarship in jazz composition from any source.


Miles Davis

The first BMI R&B Awards are held on February 25, 1959, at the Hotel Pierre in New York City. Songs that receive awards include “All I Have to do is Dream,” by Boudleaux Bryant, “Great Balls of Fire,” by Jack Hammer and Otis Blackwell and “Johnny B. Goode,” by Chuck Berry.

In a landmark year, Miles Davis, Thelonius Monk, Curtis Mayfield, Sonny Rollins, Willie Nelson, Max Shulman and Lionel Hampton all sign with BMI.

Ray Charles signs a new contract with ABC-Paramount Records that offers a production deal, profit-sharing and eventual ownership of his masters. It was exactly what artists like Sam Cooke had been working toward, and it was this visible success, as much as his passionate music, that made Ray Charles a cultural hero.



Holland Dozier Holland

Brian Holland, member of the legendary songwriting and production team Holland-Dozier-Holland (HDH), joins BMI. Fellow HDH member Lamont Dozier joins BMI a year later, followed by Eddie Holland in 1963. Together, they amass 28 Top 20 hits in three years for Motown acts like the Four Tops and the Supremes, including “Stop! In the Name of Love.”

Sam Cooke, a young gospel singer and budding entrepreneur raised in Chicago, forms his own BMI publishing company, management company and record label, paving the way for future generations of music moguls to do the same. Four years later, after writing and recording the inspirational song about the black civil rights movement, “A Change Is Gonna Come,” he is fatally shot in a Los Angeles motel under mysterious circumstances. The outpouring of grief in the African-American community is overwhelming, and Lou Rawls, Bobby “Blue” Bland and Ray Charles sing at his funeral.


John Williams signs with BMI. He goes on to score a myriad of iconic films, including Jaws, Superman, Indiana Jones and Harry Potter, among others, and is considered one of the greatest composers of all time. He continues to inspire generations of Hollywood composers to this day.

The BMI Musical Theater Workshop opens, with Broadway legend Lehman Engel as Director. Some of the famous alumni to come out of that prestigious program include Alan Menken (Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Newsies), Robert Lopez (Frozen, The Book of Mormon and Avenue Q) and Edward Kleban (A Chorus Line).


Dolly Parton signs with BMI.


BMI inaugurates its new building in Nashville. Ceremony includes Judge Robert J. Burton, an Executive Vice President of BMI; Frances Preston, then a Vice President of BMI; Country Music Association President Gene Autry; Tennessee’s governor, Nashville’s mayor and members of Congress.

Kenneth Gamble affiliates with BMI. Leon Huff signs with BMI a year later.


Robert J. Burton becomes President of BMI.

BMI begins publication of its own in-house magazine, Many Worlds of Music, renamed MusicWorld in 1988. It is the longest-running music specialist publication after Billboard. In 2012, BMI ceases the print publication, transitioning content into a digital monthly edition entitled MusicWorld Online.


On October 19, the BMI Board of Directors announces that it has elected Robert B. Sour President of the company and a member of its Board after the death of Robert J. Burton in a hotel fire.


Prolific songwriters Boudleaux and Felice Bryant reclaim their publishing rights and establish House of Bryant Publications. It has been estimated that the 800 recorded titles written by the legendary couple have sold more than a half billion copies worldwide. Among their hits are “Wake Up Little Susie” and “Bye Bye Love” recorded by the Everly Brothers, “Raining In My Heart” recorded by Buddy Holly, and the Tennessee state song “Rocky Top.”


Lou Reed

Revolutionary BMI songwriter, guitarist and leader of the Velvet Underground, Lou Reed, redefines the lyrical and creative boundaries of rock and roll through his music - starting with The Velvet Underground & Nico. Reed would follow with four subsequent decades of solo music-making. He is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Velvet Underground in 1996 and is cited as one of the most influential music makers in both punk rock and indie music.


Edward Cramer is named President of BMI.

Aretha Franklin and Barry Manilow sign with BMI.


Lionel Newman wins an Academy Award for Hello, Dolly! A prolific, versatile composer, Newman began his career as Mae West’s piano accompanist before joining 20th Century-Fox as a rehearsal pianist in 1943. He stayed with Fox for more than 40 years, working on more than 250 films, including the score for Elvis Presley’s first film, Love Me Tender. Instrumental in the development, growth and history of BMI’s Film/TV department, Newman’s relationship with BMI also encouraged a considerable number of other composers to join, including Jerry Goldsmith and other legends.



BMI now has offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Chicago, Nashville, and its headquarters in New York City.


Released in December, as Vietnam’s kaleidoscope of violence refracts the horrors of war around the world, incomparable BMI songwriter John Lennon delivers his delicate, defiant “Happy Xmas (War Is Over),” a deeply moving message of hope, peace and humanity.


As an innovation leader, BMI installs the industry’s first mainframe Univac computer, transferring song registration to a mainframe database and permitting songwriters and publishers to get instant responses to catalog inquiries.

Del Bryant joins BMI as an executive in the Writer/Publisher Relations Department in Nashville.


Paul Simon becomes the leading BMI Million Performance Certificate winner with his fifth award for “The Fifty Ninth Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy).”


Allman Brothers

After ending her working relationship with Porter Wagoner and beginning her solo career, Dolly Parton rules the charts with such classics as “I Will Always Love You.” She cut it again in 1982 and the ballad repeated its climb to the top. Then, 10 years later, Whitney Houston released the most popular version yet, which sat at the top of the pop charts for 14 weeks and earned Parton BMI’s Most Performed Song of the Year accolade (the highlight of her collection of more than two dozen BMI Country and Pop Awards.)


Stevie Nicks joins Fleetwood Mac and the tide dramatically shifts for the band. With Nicks’ bountiful talent, the group goes from cult status to global superstardom. And when Nicks launches a solo career in the early ‘80s, she becomes a role model for generations of aspiring female rockers. In 2014, Nicks is named the BMI Pop Icon.


Michael Jackson signs with BMI, a partnership that spanned decades and saw the evolution of the former child star from Gary, Indiana, and Motown darling into the undisputed King of Pop.


Natalie Cole and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds join BMI.


Barry and Maurice Gibb join BMI.

Gloria Estefan and husband and producer, Emilio Estefan, sign with BMI.


BMI songwriter and fiddle player Charlie Daniels releases the country-rock anthem “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”



The groundbreaking band Devo releases their blockbuster hit “Whip It,” written by Gerald Casale and longtime BMI composer Mark Mothersbaugh. The song hits both the Billboard charts and major rotation on MTV, being one of the first music videos to do so.


BMI affiliate Barbara Mandrell becomes the first artist ever to win CMA Entertainer of the Year two years in a row.



The National Endowment for the Arts begins to honor some of the finest creators of jazz with their annual Jazz Masters Fellowship, the highest recognition that our nation bestows upon jazz musicians. Of the more than 130 individuals to receive this prestigious honor to date, 81 are BMI composers and include such giants as innovators Miles Davis and Dave Brubeck, vocalists Betty Carter and Anita O’Day, bassists Ron Carter and Percy Heath, and improvisers like Sonny Rollins and Ornette Coleman.


“Rockit,” co-written and recorded by legendary BMI jazz great Herbie Hancock, is released as a single from his album Future Shock. Constructed and composed during the recording process at various studios, the work is the first recognized popular single to feature scratching and other turntablist techniques, which were performed on the record by GrandMixer D.ST - an influential DJ in the early years of turntablism.

Some years later, turntablists such as DJ Qbert and Mix Master Mike cite the composition as “revelatory” in the documentary film Scratch, and credit it with inspiring their interest in the instrument. The single was a major radio hit in the UK and a popular dance club song in the U.S.


BMI Icons RUN-DMC make history with their self-titled debut, rap’s first gold album. In 1985, they made history again, with King of Rock, rap’s first platinum album. With “Walk This Way,” their epic collaboration with Aerosmith, they forever blurred the lines between rap and rock.


Thea Zavin starts the BMI Foundation and serves as its President from inception. She plays a key role in building the Foundation’s various endowment funds and establishes its grant programs.


Frances W. Preston becomes BMI’s President and CEO.

The first Richard Kirk Award, bestowed on composers who have made significant contributions to the realm of television and film music, is presented to composer Jerry Goldsmith.


Hall & Oates

BMI Pop Icons Daryl Hall and John Oates become the best-selling rock duo of all time.


Del Bryant relocates to BMI’s NYC offices and is appointed Vice President, Performing Rights.

Phil Graham, then Director, European Writer/Publisher Relations, opens the BMI offices in London. (Graham now serves as Senior Vice President, Writer/Publisher Relations.)


BMI affiliate Roy Orbison joins BMI affiliate Elvis Presley as the only singers to ever simultaneously have two top 5 albums on the Billboard charts.



Michael Jackson and Frances Preston

BMI celebrates its 50th anniversary, a half century of introducing competition into the world of performing rights and providing an “open door” policy to songwriters, composers and publishers of all types of music. Included in the yearlong celebration is a special event honoring Michael Jackson.


Frances W. Preston is inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.

BMI’s first “Most Performed Song on College Radio” award is given to “Love Shack,” written and performed by the B-52s.


BMI establishes new Technology Strategy Group. Publisher/songwriter registrations are now available online.


Gloria Estefan

BMI holds its first Latin Awards Dinner in Miami. The BMI Latin Song of the Year is “Otro Dia Mas Sin Verte” (Just Another Day Without You), written by Gloria Estefan, Jon Secada and Miguel Morejon.


BMI launches, the first music industry website, in September, more than a year before Microsoft introduces Internet Explorer 1.0.

BMI celebrates the completion of its 277,892 square foot building in Nashville, with over 400 employees. BMI Government Relations Department is established to support and protect copyright public policy issues.


Online music licensing is introduced on, the first time ever done so by a PRO.


Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds wins his 7th Songwriter of the Year award at the BMI Pop Awards.


Mann & Weil

BMI launches MusicBot, an Internet web crawler locating music files online.

BMI opens its Atlanta office.

The Righteous Brothers’ song “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” written by Phil Spector, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, becomes the first song to accumulate more than seven million airplays in BMI’s 57-year history.


The husband and wife team, Robert Lopez and Kristin Anderson-Lopez, meet at the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop in New York City. Winners of the 2013 Oscar for their original song “Let It Go” from the film Frozen, the win also landed Robert in the “EGOT” history book for being the 12th and youngest composer to win all four major annual entertainment awards: Emmy, GRAMMY, Oscar and Tony.


Legendary BMI affiliate and pioneering Latin-rock guitarist Carlos Santana releases Supernatural - which features cameo performances by Eric Clapton, Everlast, Matchbox 20’s Rob Thomas, Lauryn Hill, Dave Matthews, Eagle Eye Cherry and Wyclef Jean – and captures a remarkable eight GRAMMYS, including Record of the Year, Album of the Year and Song of the Year. In winning eight awards, Santana ties Michael Jackson for most GRAMMYS won in a single year, and that record still holds.



BMI, along with performing rights organization partners SACEM (France), GEMA (Germany), SIAE (Italy) and SGAE (Spain), launches FastTrack, an international technical alliance dedicated to improving the speed, accuracy and efficiency of data for distribution of international royalties.


BMI signs industry’s first ringtone licensing agreement with wireless entertainment company Zingy.

BMI launches online affiliation service, allowing songwriters to join in minutes. The effect of this digital open door is dramatic, as BMI adds more than 25,000 new songwriters in the first year of online affiliation.


Adam Levine

BMI celebrates its 50th Annual Pop Awards with the creation of the BMI Icon award, which is presented to BMI songwriters who have had a unique and indelible influence on generations of music makers. The first BMI Icon awards are presented to Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Bo Didley.

BMI inaugurates its Urban Awards, the successor to its long-running R&B Awards ceremony, at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami. The “Godfather of Soul,” James Brown, is presented with the first BMI Urban Icon award.

The first BMI Country Icon award is presented to Bill Anderson.


Lamont Dozier and Brian and Eddie Holland, among the most successful and influential songwriters in popular music history, are lauded as BMI Icons. The legendary trio of Holland-Dozier-Holland – principal creators of the early Motown sound – have collectively earned 248 BMI Awards and their songs have tallied more than 100 million broadcast performances. Among the classics that have elevated them to Icon status are: “Baby Love,” “Stop! In The Name Of Love,” “I Can’t Help Myself,” “Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch,” “You Can’t Hurry Love,” “Reach Out, I’ll Be There,” “How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You,” “Reflections” and “You Keep Me Hanging On.”


Taylor Swift

Frances W. Preston retires as President and CEO of BMI and Del Bryant is named President and CEO of the Company.

BMI launches, the first website dedicated to helping songwriters learn about the life cycle of a song, from the creative process to the business end of the music industry, also featuring a vibrant community board where writers can connect. It is a social media initiative years before Facebook and Twitter are launched.

The first BMI London Icon award is presented to Van Morrison at the BMI London Awards.

The first BMI Latin Icon award is presented to Carlos Santana at the BMI Latin Awards.

At 15 years old, Taylor Swift signs with BMI.


BMI introduces “See It Hear First,” the first music industry podcast to be featured in the iTunes directory, highlighting music from new BMI talent. In its first year, it has a following of almost one million listeners from 107 different countries.

BMI signs Barbadian ingenue Rihanna.

2006 ranks in the top one percent of all websites, with overall 9 million page views for the year.


Recognizing her unique talent, BMI signs a raven-haired Lady Gaga.


BMI introduces online services for publishers, allowing them to register new works and manage existing catalogs more efficiently.

Daryl Hall and John Oates are honored as BMI Icons at the 56th annual BMI Pop Awards.


Ke$ha plays BMI’s Lollapalooza stage as part of the Company’s commitment to support emerging writers. The next year, her first album and first smash single “TiK ToK” catapult her career.




BMI marks its 70th anniversary, continuing to fulfill the mission set forth by BMI’s founding broadcasters when they proclaimed in 1940: “BMI gives to American music a freedom for creative progress that it has never had before.”

BMI moves New York City headquarters to 7 World Trade Center.

BMI becomes the first performing rights organization to offer a full featured-mobile version of its website,, with transactional services for members.


BMI launches BMI Live for songwriters to submit their setlists and get paid for gigs – even in small venues – another first among PROs.

BMI makes the top 15 percent of InformationWeek’s Most Innovative Business Technology Organizations list.


BMI honors songwriters Mariah Carey and Carole King as BMI Icons at its Urban and Pop Awards, respectively.

For the second consecutive year, BMI is featured on InformationWeek’s list of top 500 technology leaders, placing at # 61, the only music company within the top 200.


Miranda Lambert

BMI President Del Bryant and other senior executives head to Washington with 2012 BMI Country Songwriter of the Year, Luke Laird, and multi-GRAMMY nominated Claude Kelly to educate Congressional policy staff, legislators and Washington lobbyists on the craft of songwriting and the value of music.

BMI makes enhancements to BMI Mobile app to enable writers to easily access and manage their BMI-related business needs on an iPhone, iPad or Android mobile device.

BMI moves up once again, ranking #26 for technology leadership in InformationWeek’s list of Top 500 Innovative Companies.

BMI reports record-setting revenues and royalty distributions for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2013. Revenues increased by $45 million, a 5% gain over the prior fiscal year, exceeding $944 million.

Del Bryant announces his retirement after 42 years of continuous service to the Company. The BMI Board of Directors unanimously elects Michael O’Neill as CEO, effective September 16, 2013. O’Neill joined BMI in 1995 as Director, Group and National Accounts, and had most recently held the post of Senior Vice President, Repertoire and Licensing. Bryant serves as BMI’s President until June 2014, when O’Neill succeeds him, assuming the additional title of President.


BMI marks its milestone 75th anniversary, celebrating three quarters of a century of service to songwriters, composers, music publishers and businesses. For the fiscal year ended June 30, 2014, BMI reports the highest revenues and royalty distributions in its history, with revenues of $977 million and distribution and administration of more than $840 million to the songwriters, composers and music publishers it represents.


BMI generates total revenues of $1.013 billion, the highest in the Company’s history and the most public performance revenue generated for songwriters, composers and publishers by any music rights organization in the world. This year also marks BMI as the first U.S. PRO to achieve digital revenue which exceeds $100 million. In addition, BMI distributes and administers $877 million to its affiliated songwriters, composers and music publishers, the Company’s largest distribution ever.

BMI wins its rate court battle against digital giant Pandora in landmark case, protecting public performance royalties for songwriters, composers and publishers.

Nearly 13,000 BMI affiliates use BMI’s online tool to make their voices heard to the U.S. Department of Justice opposing an interpretation of BMI’s consent decree that would require 100% licensing.


BMI achieves a record-breaking $1.060 billion in revenues for its 2016 fiscal year. The Company also distributes and administers a record-breaking $931 million to its songwriters, composers and publishers. These results represent the most public performance revenue and royalty distributions by any music rights organization in the world.


BMI breaks revenue records for the third consecutive year, generating $1.130 billion to end its 2017 fiscal year. The company also distributes and administers $1.023 billion to its songwriters, composers and publishers, becoming the first performing rights organization in the world to deliver in excess of $1 billion to its affiliates.

BMI and ASCAP join forces to create a single, comprehensive database of musical works from their combined repertories that will deliver an authoritative view of ownership shares in the vast majority of music licensed in the United States.

BMI wins round one of its litigation against the U.S. Department of Justice on its interpretation of BMI’s consent decree involving fractional versus 100% licensing.


BMI continues to break revenue records, generating $1.199 billion for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2018. The company also distributes and administers a record $1.118 billion in royalties to its songwriters, composers and publishers, an increase of $95 million over 2017.

Michael Collins joins BMI as Vice President, Government Relations, re-establishing a dedicated presence for BMI in the DC area. Collins leads BMI’s efforts to protect the rights of its songwriters, composers and music publishers at all levels of government, both federally and in states across the country.

After BMI wins round one of its litigation against the U.S. Department of Justice on the subject of fractional versus 100% licensing, the DOJ appeals the decision and BMI again prevails, confirming that BMI is free to continue to engage in the industry-wide practice of fractional licensing. This development definitively ends litigation between BMI and the DOJ in this matter, and represents a significant victory for songwriters, composers and publishers, as well as the music industry at large.

The Music Modernization Act is signed into law, updating U.S. copyright law for the digital age. Representing the most meaningful music licensing reform in decades, the legislation provides several provisions that benefit songwriters with two that directly affect their performance rights. The first is that all future rate court cases involving BMI will be assigned to a judge from a rotating “wheel” of judges—rather than being assigned to a single judge—for the purpose of settling rate disputes. This is the manner in which most court cases are assigned and will ensure that the randomly-assigned judge will have access to a broader range of evidence to consider when setting a rate for digital services. The second, the “benchmark” provision, allows benchmark rates within the industry to be considered in the rate court process so that rates are more consistent across platforms.

Alex Flores joins BMI as Senior Vice President, Creative. Based out of the company’s Los Angeles office, Flores oversees the Creative teams in BMI’s seven offices in New York, Los Angeles, Nashville, Austin, Atlanta, London and San Juan, helping support the Company’s songwriting community while cultivating key industry relationships.


Michael O’Neill and Brandy

BMI ends its fiscal year once again breaking revenue records with $1.283 billion, distributing and administering $1.196 billion to its songwriters, composers and publishers. These results mark the most reported public performance revenues and highest royalty distributions of any music rights organization in the world.

The Department of Justice begins a new evaluation of the future of BMI and ASCAP’s consent decrees following Assistant Attorney General of the DOJ Antitrust Division Makan Delrahim’s review of all long-standing decrees in the U.S. As a result, BMI President & CEO Mike O’Neill and ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews issue an open letter to the industry putting forth a proposal for consent decree reform.

BMI opens a new creative office in Austin, marking the company’s first office in Texas and first new creative office in over 20 years. The new office allows BMI to work directly with songwriters, composers, and other music professionals in the Austin music community to help enhance their ability to earn a living in the industry. The office is led by Texas native Mitch Ballard, Senior Director, BMI, Austin, under the direction of Clay Bradley, VP, Creative, Nashville.

As part of the ongoing DOJ review of the nation’s oldest consent decrees, Senator Orrin Hatch initiates a symposium entitled “Music Licensing in the 21st Century,” in which BMI President and CEO Mike O’Neill participates. Held by the Hatch Center, which is the policy arm of the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation, the symposium focuses on striking a balance in music licensing and creating an environment in which both businesses and creators can thrive.




BMI quickly responds to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic by seamlessly transitioning all team members to working remotely and continues to successfully serve its affiliates and licensees. BMI accelerates royalty payments to its affiliates to give them some peace of mind during a tumultuous time, while our Licensing team works with our General Licensing customers as they face the shut-down of their industry. The company also joins forces with other songwriter organizations urging lawmakers to include financial assistance for music creators during the crisis. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is signed into law by President Trump and addresses the devastating economic impact of the pandemic with several important provisions aimed at helping many people, including music creators. As part of BMI’s outreach to our affiliates, the company also creates a Resource Center to help songwriters and others in the industry navigate the challenges brought on by COVID-19. The online hub provides updated information on BMI royalty payments, important legislation, references for federal and state agencies offering aid to those most affected, as well as tips for staying creative.

BMI and the Radio Music Licensing Committee (RMLC) settle rate court litigation dispute and enter into a new multi-year deal covering the 2017-2021 period. The new license means a rate that reflects the strength of BMI music and the number of radio plays it receives, which is higher than any other performing rights organization.

BMI breaks records for the sixth straight year and distributes $1.233 billion in royalties to its songwriters, composers and publishers, $37 million more than 2019.

In a joint effort, BMI and ASCAP announce the launch of Songview, a comprehensive data platform that provides music users with an authoritative view of copyright ownership and administration shares in the vast majority of music licensed in the United States.

Following the murder of George Floyd, a powerful movement for social and racial justice sweeps the nation. BMI stands with the Black community and takes action to drive change. Gospel great Bebe Winans joins the Company as a consultant, lending his guidance and perspective to help BMI navigate the changing times and continue its efforts to be a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace. Among the steps taken, the Company also establishes a program with paid time-off for BMI team members to volunteer at organizations within their communities that support voting rights, underserved populations and social justice reform. In addition, BMI donates $275,000 to multiple organizations dedicated to advancing social equality and racial justice.


After initiating a review of the nation’s oldest consent decrees two years prior, the DOJ formally closes its review of the PRO decrees and takes no action to modify or terminate them but leaves open the possibility of changes in the future. Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division of the DOJ, Makan Delrahim, makes several important pivotal statements in his remarks: Songwriters are the backbone of the music marketplace and must be paid fairly; blanket licensing is incredibly efficient; ASCAP and BMI are innovating to serve the needs of the industry; greater competition and not compulsory licensing is the answer; and the value of music is best decided in a free market.

Sandye Taylor joins BMI as Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer responsible for leading BMI’s diversity, equity and inclusion strategy to support the company’s Core Values, build on BMI’s commitment to fostering an inclusive workplace, and guide an equitable approach to attracting, retaining, and advancing diverse talent.

BMI joins the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and other music industry groups to release a statement of support for the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package (American Rescue Plan Act of 2021), which is signed into law by President Biden. The Act offers sweeping support to many individuals economically impacted by the pandemic, including music creators, copyright owners, and other small businesses.