In order for ASCAP and BMI to effectively compete with SESAC and to most efficiently service their members, their licensees and the general public, the Consent Decrees need modification. First, ASCAP and BMI must be permitted to allow the partial withdrawal of rights by its members, particularly its publisher members. The Consent Decrees have to date been construed to allow publisher members to either use ASCAP or BMI for ALL of their performance rights or for NONE. See Broadcast Music, Inc. V. Pandora Media, Inc. 13 CIV. 4037 (LLS), 2013 WL 6697788 (S.D.N.Y. Dec 19, 2013); see also ASCAP-BMI Consent DecreesFuture of Music Coalition (October 3, 2014).
To the casual observer, musicians probably seem like a disorganized bunch. Unlike doctors or lawyers, there are no qualifying exams or prerequisites that certify a musician’s level of “professionalism.” On a group level, there is no central organization that represents their collective interests.
But that’s not the case. In addition to record labels, booking agents, managers and other teammates, musicians and songwriters can align with a vast array of music-related organizations that serve a number of purposes, everything from performance rights organizations like ASCAP, BMI, SESAC and SoundExchange, to unions like AFM and SAG-AFTRA, to genre- or role-based organizations like Folk Alliance, Chamber Music America, or the Songwriters Guild.
As musicians and advocates, we at FMC know that these organizations serve an important purpose, and we have a sense that membership makes a difference. But in what ways? Do musicians that belong to certain organizations participate in more revenue streams? Do they make more money because of these allegiances? Or is the inverse true; do particular types of work make it possible and/or necessary for musicians to join certain organizations?
The last few years have been a roller coaster ride for the music industry.
As stories have moved from Arts & Entertainment to the Business sections
of major media outlets, the public has become aware of the new realities
facing the industry. Whether its the challenge of the internet,
or increasing globalization, everything seems to be up for grabs. Performing
Rights Organizations (PROs) have been at the center of a lot of these
controversies. Although most musicians and songwriters are familiar with
ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC, what do these organizations do and how are they
positioning themselves and their clients for the future? read more
Attorney Walter McDonough's Policy Primer for the Music/Tech Environment
Thursday, June 15, 2000
Walter McDonough is an entertainment/intellectual law attorney practicing in Boston, MA. This is part two of a continuing discussion with Walter about the legal and legislative maneuvering that’s underway surrounding digital download technology. Walter is also one of four founding members of the Future of Music Coalition, a lobby group that represents the interests of independent bands and labels in the digital age.
J = Jenny Toomey
W = Walter McDonough
J: Okay, tell me what specific legislation concerns you most? read more