Dear Songwriter, Composer and Publisher,
I hope you had a happy and healthy holiday season and that your creativity is freshly inspired with the new year. 2016 enabled BMI to serve you in many vital ways, from record-breaking royalty distributions, to taking on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to safeguard your creative process, to the ongoing work we do to nurture and support your careers. On behalf of the BMI team, we are excited and privileged to continue to work hard for you every day in 2017 to protect your rights and maximize the value of your music.
To that end, earlier this month BMI filed an action in Federal Rate Court against the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC) to set interim fees for radio stations represented by the RMLC while we negotiate the terms of a new five-year deal beginning in 2017. The RMLC has proposed an interim rate well below BMI’s previous deal, which would have a significant impact on the royalties we pay to our songwriters, composers and publishers. BMI strongly disagrees with this proposal that undervalues your creative work, and as such, is asking the Court to maintain the most recent rate while new terms are negotiated. As always, we will continue to update you as developments occur.
During the past quarter we also saw multiple developments on the advocacy front. As we expected, in November the DOJ filed a motion to appeal Federal Judge Louis Stanton’s decision that BMI’s consent decree does not prevent us from engaging in the fractional licensing of musical works. While the DOJ moves forward in the appeal process, Judge Stanton’s ruling remains the controlling interpretation of BMI’s consent decree. We believe his decision is correct and are well prepared to defend our position in the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
As for the Songwriter Equity Act, we want to extend a special thank you to our affiliates who collectively sent nearly 4,000 messages to the inboxes of 470 Members of Congress, urging their support of this critical bill. While it was not passed in the last Congress, your efforts have been very important. Your Representatives have been reminded that they have constituents at home who care deeply about the issue of fair compensation for creators in the digital age. We expect this legislation to be reintroduced this year and look forward to re-engaging with the 115th Congress. With that in mind, we plan to call on you again for your help in the near future.
In this distribution, we are pleased to include the following notable retroactive royalty payments for the following Internet music services for the stated performance periods: 2015 on Groove Music (formerly Xbox Music); 2013 through second quarter 2015 on Slacker; and launch through fourth quarter 2015 on Tidal. This distribution will also include BMI’s settlement with Apple for streaming activity across Apple properties from 2011 through 2013. In other good news, in this distribution we have elected to add Apple Music as a service available for our Streaming Hits Bonus. Specifically, BMI works performed as part of the Individual and Family monthly subscription services will be eligible for the bonus.
On the awards front, congratulations to our GRAMMY nominees, including those who received multiple nods: Kanye West, Rihanna, Chance the Rapper, Adele and Twenty One Pilots; as well as our Golden Globe winner, composer Justin Hurwitz, who swept both music categories, Best Original Score and Best Original Song for “City of Stars,” for his contributions to the multiple Golden Globe-winning film La La Land. Kudos also go out to the BMI songwriters who took home CMA and American Music Awards.
During BMI’s London Awards, we were proud to name Sting our BMI Icon; as well as give Song of the Year to Ed Sheeran for “Thinking Out Loud”; and our Dance Award to Afrojack, Giorgio Tuinfort, Sean Douglas, Ester Dean, Alan & John Lomax, Nicki Minaj and Bebe Rexha for “Hey Mama.” We were also delighted to honor our talented country community at BMI’s Country Awards, including Kenny Chesney as our President’s Award recipient; Ross Copperman as Songwriter of the Year; Thomas Rhett, Sean Douglas and Joe London who received Song of the Year for “Die a Happy Man”; and SONY/ATV Music Publishing Nashville who took Publisher of the Year. Also during the evening, Congressman Doug Collins (R-GA-9) was presented with the BMI Champion Award for his tireless efforts to modernize the laws that protect songwriters and ensure that music creators are fairly compensated for their work.
As always, we look forward to the fantastic music you will create in 2017, and we anticipate another dynamic and rewarding year for all.
President and Chief Executive Officer