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Concerns arise among songwriters over BMI’s private equity sale and potential royalty impacts.

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The US performing rights organization BMI is reportedly up for sale once again, and songwriters are concerned about what this could mean for their royalties. BMI, the largest music rights collection organization in the US, has recently switched from operating as a non-profit to a for-profit business and has explored talks with potential backers and suitors. Rumors suggest that New Mountain Capital, a private equity firm, is currently in the due diligence process to acquire BMI for approximately $1.7 billion. However, songwriter groups have raised questions about the potential impact of a sale on their royalties, and whether private equity owners could prioritize their own profits over the interests of songwriters.

If BMI were to sell, songwriters and composers are concerned about whether they would receive a portion of the sale proceeds, and whether broadcasters on BMI’s board would be the biggest beneficiaries. Songwriters’ advocacy groups have questioned how private equity owners of BMI would prioritize profits for themselves at the expense of songwriters. The potential sale of BMI, as well as its conversion to a for-profit model, has raised concerns about potential reductions in earnings for composers. Universal Music Publishing Group CEO Jody Gerson emphasized that any changes that result in songwriters being paid less than they deserve will not be supported. Songwriters and music publishers both have growing uncertainties about BMI’s recent moves and are seeking reassurances that the interests of songwriters will be prioritized.

BMI CEO Mike O’Neill has responded to the songwriters’ concerns, stating that the company’s move to a for-profit model and any potential sale would ultimately benefit music rightsholders. He reassured songwriters that BMI’s mission is to support them and grow the value of their music, and that the move to for-profit allows for increased investments in the company and higher distributions. However, songwriters remain skeptical and have posed tough questions about the potential impact of a sale and the profit margins of private equity owners. They are seeking assurance that profits will not come at the expense of writers and composers, and that distribution rates will not be lowered or decreased, potentially driving writers away from BMI.

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