BMI Wins Court Victory in Revenue Dispute With Top Concert Promoters, Says Its Writers Will Get a 138% Raise

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BMI has prevailed in a New York court in a dispute with Live Nation and AEG over collections of songwriting revenue from live concerts, earning a judgment the performing rights organization said would earn its affiliates 138% higher than the historical rate.

Louis L. Stanton of the Southern District of New York issued the ruling giving songwriters and publishers the raise on live revenue. BMI said that as a result of the judgment, that extra money will also come from tickets sold on the secondary market, service fees and VIP packages.

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BMI president-CEO Mike O’Neill expressed the org’s delight with the court victory, while still throwing shade at the two concert promoters and the North American Concert Promoters Association (NACPA) for years of opposition to carving out a boost in songwriter revenue.

“While we’re thrilled with this outcome,” O’Neill said in a statement, “we find it incredibly disappointing that it took millions of dollars and years of litigation to get Live Nation, AEG and NACPA to finally pay songwriters, composers and publishers what they deserve.”

A representative for Live Nation responded to the judgment by saying that the extra revenue going to songwriters will come almost entirely at the expense of artists’ revenue, not the promoters’ own. The promoter further suggested that the money involved will be neither a huge boon or huge hit to any of the parties involved.

“We advocated on behalf of artists to keep their costs down, and managed to hold the increase to less than 1/3 of BMI’s proposed increase,” the Live Nation statement said. “This will cost the performers we work with approximately $15 million a year spread out over thousands of artists, and cost increases for Live Nation directly are not material.”

AEG reps could not immediately be reached for comment.

BMI described the development as “a decision that ends decades of below-market rates for songwriters, composers and publishers in the live concert industry.”

In his statement, O’Neill called the ruling “a massive victory for BMI and the songwriters, composers and publishers we represent. It will have a significant and long-term positive impact on the royalties they receive for the live concert category. We are gratified the court agreed with BMI’s position that the music created by songwriters and composers is the backbone of the live concert industry and should be valued accordingly. Today’s decision also underscores BMI’s continued mission to fight on behalf of our affiliates, no matter how long it takes, to ensure they receive fair value for their creative work.”

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