Despite winning a similar case to ASCAP, the internet radio service couldn’t dodge BMI’s accusations and will have to pay more for music.
Just three months ago Pandora left the courthouse triumphant against the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP). It goes like this: Pandora bought from ASCAP a ‘blanket license’ which basically allowed the radio provider to use any material encompassed in ASCAP’s vast catalogue, including the big names (and I mean BIG) that are members of the society; it is precisely this in-demand publishers who were striving to settle a new agreement: Negotiate the fees of their sough-after properties directly with the streaming service in order to get more profit.
At the end, the federal judge in charge ruled out ASCAP claims by fulfilling Pandora’s request for a court order against such practices as the original agreement between both parties stipulated. So far, so good for internet radio… or not. Music publishing titan BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.) decided it was their turn to play the same game their fellow publishers lost.
As SPIN indicates:
The issues were exactly the same, as seen in court documents obtained by SPIN. Certain publishers within BMI wanted to get more money for their music, and the radio provider wanted to quash that. But this judge shot Pandora down, citing contractual details between BMI and the people in its stable. While ASCAP’s agreement with its publishers didn’t allow for withdrawal, it turns out BMI’s does — seemingly with this exact scenario in mind.
So, what now? publishers within the BMI circle are able to pullout from their digital licensing agreements and start out fresh contracts that leave them better off than they were.
This is just another chapter on the developing issue between digital music providers and musicians all over the world. From David Crowley’s claims over low royalties from services such as Pandora, to Pink Floyd’s survivors strong words against the internet radio services which trick artists “into signing something that was meant to be supportive, but ended up having negative impacts on the music industry” it is safe to say that this is a half-win for musicians all over. Radio, Internet, Streaming…it’s all good, but it all comes down to buying music, as Grizzly Bear points out “the best way to support you favorite bands is to purchase hard copies of albums.”