March 2020 – Update from NRB MLC

Dear NRBMLC Friends,

 

While in the throes of a worldwide health crisis like no other in our lifetimes, we should count our blessings! Our stations offer good news and information, encouraging our audiences that there is hope for them.

 

Web V Participants Granted Continuance: The NRBNMLC, and a majority of Web V participants, recently applied to the Copyright Royalty Judges (CRJs) for a continuance of our trial due to the coronavirus crisis. We recently heard back that our webcast rate case has been continued for six weeks to April 28, 2020 from the original date of March 16, 2020. “Web V” is the informal name for the 2019-20 Webcaster Rate Determination before the DC-based Copyright Royalty Board (CRB).

 

Meanwhile, your Committee has re-engaged with SoundExchange in hopes of a direct negotiation. While a direct negotiation with SoundExchange could open up new settlement avenues, we are keeping our options open. In early March, we made SoundExchange an offer which could lead to such a result. Following a long wait, SoundExchange has responded with a commitment to “consider” it.

 

ASCAP: Your Committee has had fruitful talks with ASCAP going back to mid-2019. They have shown interest in what we have offered. ASCAP recently “paused” these talks, however, until after the BMI Rate Court Judge approves the BMI-RMLC agreement (reached last month and kept confidential). Since BMI and ASCAP always seek parity in rates, this BMI/RMLC settlement could potentially alter ASCAP’s final rates reached some time ago with the RMLC. If that happens, it might affect your Committee’s rates. The BMI-RMLC deal could be approved soon (COVID-19 containment notwithstanding), allowing ASCAP-NRBMLC talks to reopen.

 

Music Consumers Sued by PRO Music Rights: A new performance right organization, PRO Music Rights, has filed an antitrust case against 25 music consumers, including the RMLC, TVMLC, iHeart Media, Townsquare Media, and NRBMLC. They have lumped all of these disparate entities together as if they had colluded with one another. This was reported in the trades a couple weeks ago. We held off reporting to our members about it because the suit seemed somewhat ambivalent. What we can say is that PRO Music Rights is a start-up performance right organization that primarily serves the Urban, Rap and R&B music industry. NRBMLC is a defendant in the case, although we have yet to be served. If you saw the media coverage, we want you to know we are aware of it and will deal with it when more is known.

 

With all these threats to our industry’s future, you should want to know how your Committee will pay our current and future legal bills. Primarily by donations. If you expect to benefit from our services, and have not yet partnered with us, please fill out a pledge form and send us a generous contribution.

 

Thank you for considering, and please join us in praying against the spread of the coronavirus.

 

Gratefully,

Scott R. Hunter
Executive Director

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