BMI sale talks spark royalty fears among songwriters
The relationship between performance rights organizations (PROs) like BMI and artists is founded upon ensuring fair royalty distributions for music creators. But BMI’s potential acquisition by a private equity buyer has sounded alarm bells across its songwriter community.
BMI, along with ASCAP and SESAC, collectivizes public performance royalties in the US. The PRO’s 750,000 members depend on this system for compensation when their work gets played on radio, TV, bars, and beyond. BMI’s independence has given artists confidence that revenue flows transparently back to them.
But after aborted sale attempts in the past, BMI is again courting buyers, Music Business Worldwide first reported. While details remain undisclosed, artists are wary of how new profit-driven ownership could alter BMI’s core mission. As CEO Mike O’Neill acknowledged, “Songwriters have a right to understand these decisions and how it impacts us.”
Under private equity ownership, BMI may prioritize returns for investors over its longstanding loyalty to music makers. Royalty distribution could become more opaque or shifted to benefit publishers over performers. While BMI stated songwriters will remain “front and center,” creatives are right to seek clarity on how potential restructuring could affect their livelihoods.
With the entire music ecosystem facing disruption, artists rely on PROs as an anchor of stability. BMI must affirm its commitment to transparency and equitable royalty sharing, regardless of its ownership structure. Music makers have entrusted their hard work to BMI, and in return expect unyielding dedication to their interests.
Image Credits: BMI