BMI Basing Royalties On Pollstar Tour Data

BMI is now using Pollstar boxoffice data to track live music performances in order to distribute royalties to additional songwriters, composers and music publishers as part of its expansion of performance royalties.

Pollstar’s North American Top 300 Tours, including special events and festivals, is among the quarterly data the performing rights organization now uses to determine those royalties. The first such distribution was made March 29.

Previously, distributions were made biannually.

The new distribution model has identified nearly twice as many song titles for payment, according to BMI, benefiting nearly 800 additional songwriters and composers, along with their related publishers, in the March distribution. BMI reported $905 million in performing right collections in its 2009 fiscal year.

“The expansion of the live pop concert distribution is the result of an ongoing effort at BMI to capture information on musical performances in additional venues on a more frequent basis, thereby increasing the number of titles eligible for payment each quarter,” said Michael O’Neill, BMI’s senior VP of repertoire and licensing. “The end result is the inclusion of many more songwriters and music publishers sharing in this segment of the distribution.”

BMI’s royalty distribution included certain qualifying performances identified among Pollstar’s Top 300 Tours and events including for the first time those at the Barns at Wolf Trap in Vienna, Va.; B.B. King’s Blues Club in New York City and Soboba Casino in San Jacinto, Calif.

The venues qualifying for BMI royalty distributions change each quarter, corresponding to Pollstar’s quarterly boxoffice charts.

“The good news about this is it expanded out the distribution group which, in this economy, is super,” BMI spokeswoman Hanna Pantle told Pollstar.  “It does not cover, for example, a small club that’s having a singer-songwriter night. These are the Top 300 Tours and events, and wherever a performance falls in to that, that is what this distribution addresses,” she said, adding that the performance royalties could continue to expand in the future.

BMI represents more than 400,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers in all genres of music and more than 6.5 million works.