ASCAP and the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC) announced yesterday that they have reached an agreement for the period 2017-2021, setting the performance royalties that commercial broadcasters will pay for the use of music written by composers who are represented by ASCAP. The press release issued yesterday discloses little about the details of the agreement. These will no doubt be available when the final agreement is reached and released to broadcasters.
As we wrote here, this is but one of the many performing rights organizations with which RMLC must deal this year. While it has reached an agreement with ASCAP, it also is working to try to reach an agreement with BMI, whose current agreement with the radio industry also expires at the end of this year. As we wrote here, RMLC is also currently in an arbitration proceeding with SESAC, which has resulted in numerous broadcasters receiving demands for the production of documents as part of the discovery process in that proceeding. Finally, as we detailed in our articles here and here, RMLC also is dealing with a new performing rights organization, GMR, which represents a small number of songwriters who have withdrawn their songs from ASCAP and BMI and approached broadcasters to seek a performance royalty. The litigation to compel GMR to arbitrate rates like SESAC, and GMR’s responding suit alleging that it is RMLC that is violating the antitrust laws acting as a “buying cartel,” are in their early stages – though trade press reports indicate that settlement discussions between the parties are ongoing.
So, commercial broadcasters affiliated with RMLC now know that one royalty negotiation has been settled, and we’ll be watching to see where the other three end up.