Even though record sales have dropped over the last few years, licensing royalties have continued to rise:
- Royalties paid to songwriters and music publishers from radio and television broadcasts of their songs, and from live performances, are at record highs.
….In 2003, America’s three recognized performing rights organizations – Sesac, B.M.I. and Ascap – reported record revenues, which, in turn, have generated bigger royalties distributions to songwriters and music publishers.
Ascap – the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, a nonprofit association – is the oldest and by most measures the largest of the performing rights organizations in the United States. Its preliminary data indicate that Ascap took in $668 million in 2003, 5.2 percent more than in the previous year. The association plans to release its official year-end results at its annual meeting in February.
B.M.I. – Broadcast Music Inc., also a nonprofit and the longtime chief competitor to Ascap – reported that revenue in its last fiscal year, which ended in October, increased 9.7 percent, to nearly $630 million, from $574 million in fiscal 2002.
Sesac – once known as the Society of European Stage Authors and Composers, now based in Nashville – is the smallest of the three and the only for-profit organization of the group. Mr. Velez declined to disclose revenue, but said Sesac had gains in 2003 of about 30 percent, which he said continued the pace of the last decade.
Performing rights organizations track and collect royalty fees for public performances of copyrighted music and distribute the money to the copyright owners. Their role is to ensure that songwriters, composers and music publishers are paid for the use of their creations on broadcast radio and on network, cable and satellite television as well as in public places.
Senior executives of the three organizations credited their revenue growth mainly to royalties collected from two relatively robust media: radio and cable television. They also said there were more public performance outlets now than ever: live concerts, restaurants, nightclubs, taverns, amusement parks, shopping malls, health clubs, cruise ships, even telephone on-hold music.
….Although the Internet has proved a challenge to the business practices of record labels and music creators, the performing rights organizations recognized almost immediately its potential as a major source of royalty revenues. Ascap, B.M.I. and Sesac have licensed several thousand Internet sites and online music subscription services that use streaming audio technologies.
“After tracking radio and television and cable for all of these years, suddenly you’re tracking something much bigger than all of that put together,” Ms. Preston said of the Internet.
“Where I think a lot of other people in the business were spending time with lawyers trying to find ways to sue everybody,” she said, “it was pretty clear to us that the public had accepted all of this new technology. There was no way to kill it even if you wanted to. So, you might as well get out there and embrace it and find out how you can license it and how you can collect from it.” [NY Times]
Gosh, sounds like there may be a lesson there. who might benefit from that lesson, I wonder?