Irving Azoff, Top Radio Groups Reach Temporary Licensing Agreement

Global Music Rights offers interim plan to let stations play Adele, Beatles, Beyoncé, more during court battle

NOW PLAYING
Irving Azoff, Top Radio Groups Reach Temporary Licensing Agreement

Irving Azoff's Global Music Rights will offer temporary licenses that will allow radio stations to play hundreds of artists as GMR and the Radio Music Licensing Committee go to court over radio rates for songwriters, Billboard reports.

Stations will have until January 31st to sign GMR's interim agreement that will last through September 30th. The performance rights group boasts a roster of hundreds of top artists including the Beatles, Adele, Beyoncé, Jay Z, Daft Punk, Bruno Mars and Katy Perry. Radio stations that play these artists without signing the interim agreement and paying the applicable fees could face copyright infringement suits.

The temporary licenses will cover, in part, a handful of songwriters who left the licensing giant ASCAP for GMR in the past two years, but remained covered by ASCAP agreements that expire at the end of 2016. While the RMLC and ASCAP have signed new licensing agreements, those ASCAP GMR songwriters are not covered.

Stations will have to contact GMR to gauge the exact cost of their licensing fee, though a retroactive fee adjustment will be available depending on future licensing agreements or the outcome of the suit between GMR and the RMLC.

The two groups have filed dueling anti-trust suits, with Azoff's GMR contending that radio rates for songwriters are too low and the system for negotiating them outdated and in need of change. For years, ASCAP and BMI – which represent about 95 percent of music copyrights – maintained a royalty rate of 4 percent of stations' revenue. Per court documents, GMR is seeking $42 million for the RMLC's 10,000 stations to license its music for a year.

With the interim licensing agreement, the RMLC has withdrawn a request for an injunction that would have prevented GMR from suing stations for copyright infringement during the anti-trust litigation. However, sources told Billboard that GMR had no intention of filing such suits so long as RMLC was negotiating rates. In fact, many GMR artists not covered by ASCAP or BMI, including the Who, Drake and the Eagles, were played regularly on the radio throughout 2016.