December 2016 – Update from the NRB MLC

Dear Friends:

This is the Season of peace, time off for family gatherings, and generosity. We hope you find yourselves in that frame of mind.

Some big music people unfortunately appear to be of a different mindset. Those in charge of a new performance rights organization, GMR, have levelled their sites at the radio industry:

Global Music Rights (GMR) has come out swinging (but not in the musical sense). They are playing hardball with the radio industry, specifically the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC), our counterpart in general market radio. The Radio Business Report headlined “Irving Azoff Sets Stage for Radio Royalty Rumble” last week. Writer Adam Jacobson followed with this:

The battle over royalty payments owed to artists represented by music industry titan Irving Azoff’s performance-right licensing agency Global Music Rights (GMR) looks to be a fierce one … Now, GMR has counter-sued the RMLC, calling it “an illegal cartel.”

Needless to say, we found this news troubling, and it lands pretty close to home. The back story is that GMR was founded only three years ago. RMLC’s anti-trust suit against GMR, filed in November, claims that GMR has acted as “an unlawful monopolist that is deploying a calculated scheme to extort the radio industry.” Now GMR has hit back.

Your Committee has worked closely with the RMLC for several years, and most recently the RMLC represents many NRBMLC commercial members in arbitration with SESAC. The arbitration follows RMLC’s successful antitrust suit against SESAC.

The two committees, NRBMLC and RMLC, have similar objectives — most importantly, representing radio stations in fair music license negotiations. Our work goes back over thirty years, and RMLC’s longer than that. To have the RMLC accused of being an “illegal cartel” gets our attention. And so does a GMR threat to soon begin suing unlicensed stations who play its songs without a license.

It is imperative that all NRBMLC stations, both commercial and noncommercial, take GMR very seriously. By next week your committee will post instructions on how best to respond to them.

As always, we deeply need and appreciate your continuing support!

Russ Hauth
Executive Director

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