US collective management society BMI has posted record revenues of $1.060 billion for its fiscal year ended June 30. It is the highest revenues in the non-profit society's 76-year history.
During the fiscal year, BMI distributed and administered $931 million to its songwriters, composers and publishers, a 6% increase over the previous year. BMI claims that it returns approximately 88% of all revenue to the musical creators and copyright owners it represents. In a statement, BMI said these results “represent the most public performance revenue and royalty distributions by any music rights organisation in the world”.
“We are beyond pleased with this milestone,” said BMI president and CEO Mike O’Neill (pictured). BMI’s total domestic revenue performance reached $784 million, a figure that was “bolstered by record-breaking results in its digital and general licensing categories”. BMI said that it processed more than one trillion audio performances during the fiscal year, over 950bn of which were digital, a 45% increase from last year.
Digital revenue exceeded $100m for the first time last year, at $152m, up 50%, pushed by numerous new agreements signed throughout the year, notably a multi-year license with Pandora, as well as deals with Spotify, Apple Music, Microsoft, Sony¹s PlayStation Video and Slacker, among others.
General licensing, which includes performance rights for the use of music in businesses like restaurants, bars, hotels and fitness facilities, along with other income, hit a new milestone of $140m. BMI said it added 15,000 new businesses paying performance rights to the hundreds of thousands already in BMI¹s portfolio.
Revenue from all media licensing, including radio, television and cable and satellite entertainment, grew to $492 million, with cable and satellite entertainment accounting for the largest portion of BMI’s domestic revenue for the third consecutive year.
International revenues were down 5% to $276m, affected by “significant economic challenges overseas resulting in lower foreign exchange rates”, said BMI. While down 5% year to year in US dollars, BMI added that its international revenues “would have exceeded last year’s performance by $14m had it not been for the strengthening dollar”.
O'Neill took this opportunity to highlight the current context that BMI is operating in, with the recent decision by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) not to change the consent decrees that govern BMI and competitor ASCAP, and introduce what is called 100% licensing.
Said O'Neill: “The ability to provide our songwriters, composers and publishers with our largest royalty distributions to date proves that the current marketplace is working efficiently, a fact the DoJ has undermined with its recent interpretation of our consent decree."
He added: “We’re eager to build on this success and continue to ensure that all of our music creators are fairly paid for their work and that licensees maintain full access to BMI’s repertoire of nearly 12 million songs. As of now, the DoJ¹s interpretation will disrupt these efforts, stifle creative freedom for songwriters, limit choices for music users and bog down the marketplace. We are determined not to let that happen.”