UMPG Inks Agreement with Pandora for BMI Repertoire

umpglogoUniversal Music Publishing Group has signed a license agreement with Pandora that will allow Pandora to play UMPG’s songs in the BMI catalog, reports Billboard.

“Our deal with Pandora is another step toward reaching our goal of ensuring that there is a vibrant digital marketplace where both music services and the songwriters and composers who make those services possible can thrive,” UMPG chairman and CEO Zach Horowitz said in a statement. “This arrangement will allow music fans to enjoy our music on Pandora while protecting our songwriters and composers.”

In September, a judge ruled that UMPG (as well as other publishers) has the right to withdraw digital licensing from performance rights organizations, though they would have to pull all rights, not just digital. However, the judge also ruled that Pandora had an interim consent-decree license that would expire Dec. 31, 2015. On Dec. 18, 2013, the judge ruled that there was no interim consent-decree license. This ruling translated that if UMG withdrew from BMI after Dec. 31, Pandora’s BMI blanket license would no longer cover UMPG songs.

Afterward, UMPG and Pandora began direct negotiations for a license for the BMI repertoire; an agreement was reached on Dec. 31, 2013. Terms of that agreement were not disclosed. Currently, the license means that UMPG and its songwriters/composers will not be subject to Pandora/BMI rate court proceeding.

“Today, songwriters and composers are too often denied fair compensation for their work because BMI and ASCAP, the two major performance rights organizations that license these services, are regulated by antiquated consent decrees, conceived in a different century for a different world,” said Horowitz. “The decrees make government mandated rate courts the final arbiters of fees especially problematic in the rapidly evolving digital marketplace where an absence of market benchmarks may make that impractical, and where the consent decrees restrict the courts from customizing arrangements to address the full array of issues that may arise.”

pandora_logoPandora offered a different view of the rulings. “Judge Stanton’s series of rulings [in the BMI rate court] created uncertainty within the music industry and threatened to negatively impact songwriters and performers by having their music removed from the largest U.S. internet radio service,” Pandora said in a statement. “With only days to act before a January 1st deadline, we moved quickly to reach an agreement to keep their music playing on Pandora. This agreement should be viewed as a specific approach to address a short term-issue resulting from a legal decision.”

UMPG’s Howowitz added, “Direct negotiations between a willing buyer and willing seller offer the best approach to empowering services while securing reasonable fees and terms for songwriters and composers. UMPG’s deal with Pandora for our BMI repertoire is a prime example of this.”

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Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]

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