Fellow Songwriters -
As many of you know, the US Department of Justice is currently considering changes to the consent decrees which regulate licensing rules and rates for BMI and ASCAP. As songwriters, we have had to undergo an enormous education as we grapple to understand the historical context of the consent decrees and the complexity of how they impact our day-to-day ability to make a living, now more than ever. Streaming media has changed the game entirely.
What we did not see coming was the insertion of the completely fabricated issue of “fractional licensing” into the debate. Because of this, the DOJ is now considering requiring our PROs (Performance Rights Organizations), ASCAP and BMI, to issue licenses for entire works when they may only represent one writer or a fraction of that work. We disagree vociferously.
Make no mistake, requiring the PROs to license entire works, rather than their fractional interests, would create pandemonium for songwriters while making life much easier for music streaming platforms who have shown contempt for keeping track of and paying songwriters.
Here is what we believe: MY PRO can license my share of the song we wrote together and YOUR PRO can license your share. End of story. Any other interpretation of how our work should be licensed by our PROs is unacceptable to us and goes against everything songwriters believe walking into any collaboration.
If you agree, it’s imperative that you register your opinion where it counts. The DOJ has a call for comments on its website regarding fractional licensing. ASCAP and BMI have come out swinging on this issue and the songwriting community should stand squarely behind them. Click on the links below. Deadline for comments is November 20, 2015.