BMI 2020

Broadcasters will apparently pay more in songwriter royalties under a new agreement struck between the Radio Music License Committee and Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI). Specific terms of the settlement haven’t been released, but in a joint statement the two organizations say the multiyear deal “reflects the strength” of BMI’s share of radio airplay. BMI claims its repertoire makes up a larger percentage of what’s played on the radio compared to rivals ASCAP, Global Music Rights or SESAC.

“We are happy that our impasse with BMI has reached an amicable conclusion,” said Salem Media Group CEO Ed Atsinger, who also chairs the RMLC. “The radio industry believes strongly that songwriters should be compensated fairly, and with BMI’s support, we hope that this deal will assist others in the music licensing community in determining fair rates for everyone on both sides,” Atsinger said in a statement.

The new deal retroactively applies to Jan. 1, 2017 and runs through Dec. 31, 2021. In addition to the new agreed-upon rate, the RMLC has agreed to a one-time payment to BMI for litigation fees.

“We’re pleased to reach an agreement with the RMLC that reflects a much more appropriate value for our affiliates’ music,” said BMI President Mike O’Neill. “While litigation is sometimes a necessary step, our preference is always to work out an amicable solution with our licensing partners while continually keeping the best interests of our songwriters top of mind.”

Even as the radio industry will apparently need to dig deeper into its pocket to pay royalties to BMI songwriters, there was a win for broadcasters. The settlement further clarifies and preserves the scope of the deal. Not only will it include over-the-air broadcasts, but also station streaming simulcasts, podcasts, and HD Radio side channels. The industry had been looking to keep all those elements together, seeing a bulk rate as more advantageous.

The deal still needs approval of a federal court in New York before it becomes finalized.