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Concerns arise among songwriters as BMI’s private equity sale threatens their royalties.

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US performing rights organization BMI is reportedly up for sale for the second time in less than a year, sparking concerns among songwriters about the potential impact on their royalties. BMI, which switched from a non-profit to a for-profit business earlier this year, is said to have entered into discussions with multiple potential buyers, including private equity firm New Mountain Capital, which reportedly entered into a transaction in principle to acquire BMI for around $1.7bn. Songwriters’ groups have expressed concerns about the potential sale, questioning whether writers will receive part of the proceeds and criticising the broadcasters who would benefit from the sale of a company that only holds song copyrights. The potential sale of BMI could have profound implications for the US music industry, as the organization collected royalties on behalf of 1.3 million rightsholders in 2022, distributing a record $1.471bn that year.

Songwriters are concerned about the potential sale of US performing rights organization BMI and what it could mean for their royalties, with questions raised about whether writers will receive a share of the proceeds. BMI recently put itself up for sale for the second time in less than a year and has reportedly been exploring talks with potential buyers, including private equity firm New Mountain Capital. Songwriters’ groups have written to BMI expressing their concerns, questioning why broadcasters, who pay royalties collected by BMI, would benefit from the sale of a company that only holds song copyrights. BMI, the largest music rights collection organization in the US, had 1.3 million affiliates in 2022 and distributed a record $1.471bn in royalties that year.

BMI’s potential sale has raised concerns about the impact on songwriters’ earnings and has prompted responses from major players in the music publishing industry. Jody Gerson, CEO & Chair of Universal Music Publishing Group, emphasized the need for any changes to increase the value for songwriters and ensure they are not paid less than they deserve. The concerns raised by songwriters mirror those of music publishers, who fear that private equity owners of BMI may prioritize their own profits over the earnings of composers. BMI CEO Mike O’Neill has reassured songwriters that the move to a for-profit model and any potential sale would ultimately benefit music rightsholders and maintain the company’s mission to support songwriters, composers, and publishers.

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