Live Nation, AEG and the North American Concert Promoters Association (NACPA) have filed notice to appeal BMI’s victory in its rate court litigation over royalties paid to songwriters, composers, and publishers by the live concert industry.
In March, the music rights organisation prevailed in a New York court in a dispute with Live Nation and AEG over collections of songwriting revenue from live concerts, earning a judgment the performing rights organisation said would earn its affiliates 138% higher than the historical rate. BMI had successfully argued that those who created music should be better rewarded by those who perform or organise events, and it was decided songwriters would be awarded 0.5% of every event’s revenue.
The decision also expanded the definition of the total revenue base to which the new rate is applied, taking into account the way modern promoters monetise concerts. This includes tickets sold directly onto the secondary market, servicing fees received by the promoters and revenues from box suites and VIP packages.
While Live Nation downplayed the impact of the ruling at the time, saying it would cost performers about $15m a year, divided among thousands of artists, BMI said the group has now appealed the decision.
Mike O’Neill, president and chief executive of BMI, said: “Given Live Nation, AEG and NACPA’s bizarre position throughout trial that concertgoers attend concerts for the experience of the staging, videos and lightshows, as opposed to the actual songs and music being performed, their appeal was not a surprise to BMI.
“For decades, the live concert industry has fought to keep rates suppressed. And even now, when they are making more money than ever, in more ways than ever, they are determined to deny songwriters and composers the fair value of their work, despite the fact that without their contributions, a concert wouldn’t even be possible.
“BMI will continue to fight on behalf of our affiliates, the creators of the music that is the very backbone of the live concert industry, to prevent that outcome.”
BMI in 2018 filed a petition seeking “reasonable final license fees” for the rights to perform all BMI-affiliated musical compositions in events hosted by concert promoters like NACPA.
At the time, BMI said its total licence fees from the live concert industry are less than $20m annually, or less than 0.19% of the industry’s revenue.