5 Things To Know In Advance Of Renewing Your Music Licenses

(1)As 2016 draws to a close, many are likely thinking about renewing their music licenses. Change is afoot in the industry however, and before rushing to update their preexisting licenses, here are five things license holders ought to take into account.


In this new post to MusicThinkTank, Brian Penick shares five things regarding both current and potential future licensing structures that he feels artists should have in mind be they seek renewal on their current licenses.

"What’s even worse about blanket licenses is who collects royalties from your fees. In the absence of data from real-world music use, the PROs use radio as the main proxy to distribute royalties. This means that if a songwriter performs or is broadcast in your business and is not on the radio, they likely do not earn money. Even worse, your fees are likely going to the big names on commercial radio."


Share on:


  1. The above statement is totally false … as is the most of the rest of this article … PROs have never used radio as their sole source of information for the distribution of license fees to their members. And, in the digital age sources of performance information have expanded dramatically. In fact, in the case of live performances, the performers can supply set information to their PROs so songwriters and music publishers can get paid for exactly what is performed. It should also be noted that some club owners charge the performers fees to help offset the fees they pay to the PROs… which are generally much higher than the fees they actually pay to the PROs – fees that are, in most cases, less than the cost of a glass of beer per day! This article is such a scam, designed to do nothing more than try to screw over the people that create the music that helps draw patrons to establishments. If owners think music doesn’t help them sell the products and services they offer … all they have to do is turn it off.

  2. Here are some points of clarification to your comment:
    • There currently is not an efficient way to track real-world performances (the problem Soundstr is trying to resolve). PROs do use Radio as a proxy to determine distributions for this real-world “general licensing” category. The top concerts are also accounted for (via Pollstar), along with artist submitted setlists, but Radio is the main proxy. Here is a link to an infographic we posted (via Hypebot/MusicThinkTank) to help explain the world of general licensing: (http://www.musicthinktank.com/blog/general-licensing-infographic.html)
    • Yes, songwriters can submit their setlists for PRO compensation, but most performing songwriters do not (nor should they have to). The number of setlist submissions is in the ten thousands, while the number of performances are in the millions. We’re hoping to automate this process so all registered songwriters can be compensated for their performances without any additional work. The last thing you want to do when you get off stage after performing is submit your setlist: (http://www.bmi.com/pdfs/publications/2015/BMI_Annual_Review_2015.pdf)
    • For fees paid to PROs/costs charged to artists, consider this: It’s standard for concert promoters to deduct PRO fees from artist’s ticket sales. Those fees are distributed to ASCAP, BMI, SESAC and now GMR. Why should that songwriter pay PROs they are not associated with and do not represent any of the songs they performed? Example: a songwriter is registered to ASCAP and only performs their own songs – only ASCAP fees should be deducted and these should come back to them from ASCAP (music performed before/after notwithstanding). In this scenario, they should not have BMI, SESAC or GMR fees deducted. Identification will aid in the collection and distribution of funds – no more overcharging for music or paying PROs whose music is not being used at a performance. As for the fees “being less than a beer a day” – the venue’s fees can be tens of thousands of dollars per year, and nightly fees can be in the hundreds of dollars. (This depends on the size of the business and how music is being utilized.)
    • This article is intended to inform business owners and benefit songwriters. Music identification can help businesses gain data behind music usage to negotiate fairer fees, which will help songwriters receive royalties when their music is performed or broadcast. It’s literally a win-win for both parties. Soundstr was founded by songwriters who have experienced the problem of not being compensated for real-world performances, and our mission is to help build a more sustainable music industry.

Comments are closed.