We’re finally back from our brief hiatus and have so much news to catch up on, so we’re starting with the largest happening of the last few days.
Since the uprise of music streaming platforms like Spotify and Pandora, there have been few topics as hotly debated as digital rights. Publishers and writers alike have been upset about the antiquated and infamously inflexible legal framework surrounding the digital realm for years.
The last you probably heard, publishers were toying with the idea of pulling their entire catalogs from performance rights societies ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC, if the Justice Department didn’t review and adjust the consent decree to reflect an agreement more favorable (or “fair”) to publishers.
The argument is that publishers want the ability to directly negotiate potentially more favorable deals with streaming platforms, but not with any other types of performance rights. As the decree currently stands, labels must pull either their entire catalog from the PROs, or none at all—basically, partial representation is off the table.
However, a few days ago the “idea” of pulling catalogs escalated into a full-blown threat with head of Sony/ATV/EMI publishing, Marty Bandier, writing an open letter to songwriters confirming “Sony/ATV would indeed seriously consider ‘the potential complete withdrawal of all rights from ASCAP and BMI’ if the company doesn’t get its way on the decree review,” according to CMU.
Although, the online publication also suggests “It’s possible Bandier is still bluffing. Because while, with so many radio stations in the US now owned by one of a small number of broadcasters, it wouldn’t be too tricky for Sony/ATV to do radio licensing itself, no publisher really wants to have to have relationships with every gig promoter and music-playing bar in the country.”
Only time will tell if the publishers will get what they want with a review, or even get a review at all, but until then you can read the latest at CMU, including Bandier’s letter, and their collection of background info on the issues.