Hello Mr. Pritchard,
I read your article on Music Licensing in the latest issue of the Galaris newsletter. My concern is, I am a songwriter/publisher member with BMI. I’ve had several of my mp3 music tracks performed or featured on various podcast productions but I haven’t seen any royalty payments from those performances. All of the songs featured or performed are registered with BMI. I appreciate the exposure but should BMI send me a royalty check for those performance of my music? What am I’m doing wrong? I look forward to your reply.
Lee Pritchard’s Answer…
Thank you for your question.
The BMI Internet Music license covers usage of any BMI music in podcasts. Once the podcaster has a license BMI request music usage reports identifying all of the music works used. As I understand it, it is not clear how royalties are calculated and paid out to BMI songwriter / publisher members.
Traditionally, royalty-collecting societies do not pay out on every single song used but compile statistics based on samples of play lists. A known example of this is local radio and public venue licensing. They claim that it is impractical for them to monitor and payout on every song used. This is obviously not ideal and it is inevitable that some will benefit more than others. Almost always, it is the major record labels and mainstream artists that benefit the most. As an independent, there is a chance of not being paid at all based on their statistics.
The question is, how are they paying out on podcast usage and are you a casualty of BMI’s statistics?
Again, it is not clear. The following is taken from BMI’s online Royalty Information booklet regarding Internet Music and Mobile Entertainment.
“As these are very new mediums for licensing and distribution, policies still are being established as to how performances are to be tabulated and royalties are to be distributed.”
I would suggest that as a member of BMI, you should call them and ask them how they are currently tabulating royalties for podcast use of your music. In theory they should be able to locate your tracks in their music usage reports. Surely this is the least they should do for a member, especially as you know your music is being used in podcasts and that you have not received royalties.
The other reason, albeit slightly depressing, is that the podcasters may have used your music without acquiring a license. If you know who they are you could report them to BMI, and I believe they would have an obligation to do something about it for you.
I hope this is helpful, and I would be really interested to know how you get on with this issue.
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