In this piece by Murray Stassen, we learn about the outcome of a year's long battle between Irzing Azoff's Global Music Rights (GMR) and the Radio Music Licensing Committee (RMLC), and how it can set a new precedent in supporting the rights of songwriters. The Performance Rights Administration has been more or less completely dominated in the US by ASCAP and BMI for close to a century, representing roughly 90% of artists. While the incumbent competition was stiff, the legendary artist manager Irving Azoff had his vision of how these rights should be accounted for and launched his performance rights organization in 2013. With the establishment of Global Music Rights 9GMR), Azoff sought to create greater transparency between artists and the entities that license their music, specifically terrestrial radio stations.
Like many other areas of the music industry, terrestrial radio has not been immune to corporate consolidation of both the stations themselves as well as various organizations and vendors who work in step with them, and through this intermediation dilute artist royalties. In this case, the 800-pound gorilla is the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC), which negotiates on behalf of over 10,000 (~90%) of radio stations in the US.
Due to the overwhelming size of ASCAP and BMI’s market share, the DOJ issued Consent Decrees to curb the anticompetitive tendencies of the publishing sector. While these antitrust decrees were originally put into place in 1941, they have been updated through the years and have garnered an overwhelming amount of attention as the music industry moved to digital formats (and in doing, began breaking records in regards to PRO and publishing revenue.)
When it came time for GMR to negotiate its rates with the RMLC on behalf of its artists, Azoff’s organization was accused of offering rates comparable to extortion. In return, the GMR dubbed the RMLC a price-fixing, illegal cartel.