We reported yesterday on US collecting society ASCAP’s announcement that it was delaying its next set of distributions from 6 April to 28 April. That news is already sparking a reaction from some songwriters online, with a common theme being to contrast ASCAP’s announcement to an email sent out to members by fellow US society BMI. Stressing that in the coronavirus crisis “our goal is to minimize its financial impact on you”, the email stressed that royalty distributions from BMI “will not be affected by the pandemic in the near future”.
Like ASCAP, BMI sees challenges ahead – in its case, a potential decline in royalties due to be paid out in January 2021, based on performance licensing collections in the second quarter of 2020. “While you may see a lower distribution that quarter than you might typically receive under ordinary circumstances, given BMI’s business model, we have the time and ability to plan for this outcome,” explained the letter.
Spreading out the retroactive payments from BMI’s recent radio-industry settlement and an anticipated growth in domestic revenue generated by music and video streaming services are how it hopes to offset “some” of the current quarter’s collapse in collections from concerts, bars, restaurants and gyms etc. “The discrepancy between @bmi response and @ASCAP response is astounding,” tweeted musician TJ Stafford, as they shared screenshots of BMI’s mailout. Others (for example here, here, here, here and here) suggest that the comparison is not an isolated one. We suspect we’ll be hearing more from ASCAP if the criticism builds.