BMI payouts top $1bn for first time – but digital growth slows down

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US performance rights organization BMI has published its figures for its latest financial year – and while there’s good news for songwriters and publishers, there’s also a hint that the PRO’s collection growth will face a challenge in the near future.

BMI’s total payout to rights-holders hit $1.023bn in the 12 months to end of June this year, up 9.9% – or $92m – on the same period of 2015/2016.

That represents the first time that BMI’s annual distributions have hit ten figures.

There was other good topline news in terms of collections, which exceeded $1bn for the third year in a row – up $70m (or 6.6%) on 2015/2016 to $1.13bn.

The majority of this growth came from traditional US media like television and radio, from which $524m were collected in the year – up $32m (or 6.5%) year-on-year.

Another highlight was the org’s international (ex-US) collections, which rose $18m year-on-year (also 6.5%) to $294m – with BMI claiming that the category would have grown by another $10m had it not been for unhelpful foreign exchange rates.

Mike ONeill, President and CEO, BMI, commented: “No matter how much the industry continues to evolve, BMI remains the leader in supporting songwriters, composers and publishers and maximizing their royalties across all platforms.

“We are thrilled to have been able to achieve these record distributions, but we still believe our affiliates deserve more.  We thank them for entrusting their music to us and will continue to work hard on their behalf to secure the full and fair value of their creative work.”

However, there was one area of collection which arguably disappointed.

Digital collections grew by just $11m, or 7%, year-on-year to $163m.

Bear in mind that in the prior year, digital collections grew by $51m, or just over 50%.

“BMI generates new business, our publishers benefit from our distribution expertise, and our affiliates continue to receive their royalties from a trusted source.”

You can bet that new direct deals struck between publishers and Pandora played a big role here; the US-based platform has introduced fresh interactive and semi-interactive elements to its service over the past 12 months.

BMI continues to administer this direct deal Pandora money, however – meaning that although it’s not reflected in the org’s headline $1.13bn collections figure, it is represented in its $1.023bn 2016/2017 distribution.

ONeill added, “While the administration of direct digital deals is relatively new, we’re seeing the benefits across the board. BMI generates new business, our publishers benefit from our distribution expertise, and our affiliates continue to receive their royalties from a trusted source. It’s a smart solution for everyone involved.”

BMI said its small uptick in digital collections was “helped in part by new long term agreements with Netflix and Hulu, among others”.

The not-for-profit company’s total domestic (US) revenue came in at a record $836 million, a $52 million or 7% increase over last year.

General Licensing, which includes fees from US businesses like restaurants, bars, hotels, shopping centers and fitness facilities, along with other income, grew 7% to $149 million.Music Business Worldwide

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