‘A Great Day For Artists’: DOJ Backs Azoff’s Global Music Rights In RMLC Suit


The U.S. Department of Justice has weighed in on behalf of Global Music Rights (GMR) in its long-running legal battle with the Radio Music Licensing Committee (RMLC), which negotiates song licenses on behalf of radio stations. 
The DOJ’s antitrust division did not mince words when it urged a federal court to reject the RMLC’s attempts to misconstrue the laws that prohibit its illegal, price-fixing, cartel behavior.
“Competitors’ naked agreements to fix prices are one of the most pernicious forms of anticompetitive restraints that violate Section 1 of the Sherman Act,” it stated.
The DOJ confirmed GMR’s assertion that the RMLC attempted to justify decades of illegal collusion to pay songwriters below-market rates, and called on the court to reject the RMLC’s arguments.
GMR has consistently maintained that members of the RMLC illegally collude with one another to suppress rates paid to songwriters and composers for public performances of their work.
RMLC maintains GMR has violated antitrust decrees for small PROs to inflate rates for specific songs.
“The court filing by the Department of Justice reaffirms the legal position of GMR and vindicates the rights of artists and songwriters to be free from illegal price-fixing by radio stations,” GMR lead counsel Daniel Petrocelli said.
“Today is a great day for artists, who have been bullied by the RMLC since the dawn of the modern radio industry,” GMR founder Irving Azoff said. “Advocating on behalf of artists is our founding principle, and we refused to allow this unfair status quo to continue. We believe the days of this brazen, long-running cartel are now numbered. GMR has never been prouder to stand with songwriters to fight back.” (Azoff is a co-founder of Pollstar parent company Oak View Group.)
In GMR’s eyes, the RMLC has been “the vehicle that the radio industry’s horizontal competitors have used to illegally collude and fix prices to the detriment of songwriters.” 
GMR filed suit against the RMLC in 2016 to challenge what GMR describes as its “stranglehold over the $22 billion radio industry.”
The suit followed RMLC’s own antitrust suit against GMR a month earlier, accusing the performing rights organization (PRO) of forcing stations to pay too much for the rights to its catalog of songs, which include works by Drake, Eagles, Smokey Robinson, Bruce Springsteen and Pharrell Williams.
If the court follows the DOJ’s advice, the suit will move ahead.
The work of artists drives radio station revenue and profit, but, according to GMR, “due to decades of artificial price suppression by the RMLC cartel, songwriters receive just a tiny slice of the revenue they create for radio stations.”