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BMI Distributes $1.233 Billion to Music Creators

Despite the unprecedented impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic, BMI closed its fiscal year ended June 30 with historic revenue and royalty distributions. The company generated $1.311 billion in revenue, a $28 million increase over the previous year and distributed and administered $1.233 billion to its affiliated songwriters, composers and publishers, 3% or $37 million more than last year. For the fifth consecutive year, these results represent the highest reported public performance revenues and royalty distributions of any music rights organization in the world. 

In making this announcement, BMI President & CEO Mike O’Neill said, “During this unprecedented year, our songwriters and composers’ incredible creativity, talent and resilience were beyond compare and truly inspiring. We were thrilled to be able to distribute our highest royalties ever and deliver them earlier than scheduled to help ease the concerns of our creators and publishers during this challenging time. BMI remains committed to supporting our affiliates during this crisis and beyond, and our team continues to work hard every day to protect the profession of songwriting and composing and ensure the ongoing creation of new music.”

The $1.233 billion total in distributions includes domestic and international royalties, as well as distributions from direct deals that BMI administers on behalf of its publisher and digital service provider clients. Those direct deals, which account for $71 million, represent an increase of $9 million over last year and approximately 6% of BMI’s total distribution.

Though its revenue performance surpassed last year’s results, BMI estimates it absorbed a $60 million negative impact to its revenues due to the COVID -19 effect across multiple businesses.  The company’s total domestic revenue, including digital, media and general licensing, came in at $961 million, an increase of $18 million, or 2%, over last year. Strong growth in the digital and radio categories helped weather a decline in other areas, notably the general licensing sector, where businesses such as live concert venues, bars, restaurants, fitness centers, retail establishments and many others faced closures as a result of the pandemic.

Revenue from digital sources represented 32% of BMI’s domestic total with $304 million, an increase of $42 million, or 16%, compared to last year. This marks the first time the digital category eclipsed all others. As people stayed home during the COVID-19 crisis, they turned to indoor entertainment which translated to increases in viewers and listeners. The company saw strong growth from subscription streaming services that feature TV series, movies and music. Notably, BMI entered into new digital audiovisual licensing agreements with Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max and Peacock this year.

Total domestic media licensing revenue, comprised of cable & satellite, broadcast television and radio, came in at $527 million, an increase of $14 million, or 3%, over last year. Of this, cable and satellite-derived income remained the largest contributor at $271 million. Radio revenues totaled $155 million, $27 million higher than last year, or an increase of 21%, thanks to BMI’s rate court settlement with the Radio Music Licensing Committee (RMLC) that resulted in a new agreement and retroactive payments. Broadcast television revenue came in at $101 million, flat to last year.

General licensing, along with other income, came in at $130 million, down $39 million, or 23%, from last year. BMI’s international revenue grew to $350 million, up $10 million, or 3%, over last year. This figure would have been $9 million more were it not for a negative foreign exchange impact.

BMI saw its affiliate membership increase by almost 10% this year, with nearly 100,000 new songwriters, composers and publishers joining the organization. Exciting new signings included Succession composer Nicholas Britell, Chance the Rapper, H.E.R., Tame Impala, Dave Mustaine, Juan Salinas and Oscar Salinas of Play-N-Skillz, and the late Pop Smoke, among others, while agreements were extended with Ellie Goulding, Elton John, Khalid, Marshmello, Willie Nelson, Ozuna, Horacio Palencia, Mike Post, Lil Wayne, John Williams, Bebe Winans, and many more. In addition, BMI’s number of licensed musical works grew to over 17 million.

This year, BMI processed approximately two trillion performances. While this number is slightly lower than last year’s total, this is only due to a change in BMI’s internal performance tracking system. The Company actually saw a 26% increase in performances processed when comparing year-over-year with this new approach. 

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