The Sound & The Fury 

BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.) which represents 475,000 songwriters, composers, and music publishers), has just launched BMI Live: From Soundcheck to Royalty Check. It’s a new program that allows songwriters “to register their concerts and set lists online to be considered for payment in live music venues, regardless of size.”

If you’re already a BMI member, you have until March 31 to go to bmi.com and enter your performances between July 1 and December 31, 2010, in order to qualify for the next distribution of royalty checks in June. Performances between October 1, 2010 and March 31, 2011, are eligible for payments in September ’11, and performances between January 1, 2011, and June 30, 2011, will be paid out in January 2012. Both composers and publishers receive payment (go to bmi.com for details on deadlines).

If you’re not a member of BMI yet, it’s worth checking it out: the money (whatever the amount) is out there, and you might as well get your piece (or crumb) of the pie.

“You receive a direct deposit to your account,” said Jerry W. Bailey, BMI’s director of media relations in an email to the Current. “The amounts depend on the size of the venues and number of performances.”

Yeah, I knew it was too good to be true. Only big acts can benefit from this, right?

“This program was designed especially for the performing songwriters in the early stages of their careers,” said Bailey. “The big acts may participate, but they already are receiving good checks. We believe the songwriters who will appreciate this program most … are those who did not receive much radio or TV play and who did not have songs on the top tours. The point of the program is that, now, every performing songwriter can share in royalties, small or big.”

Yes, but unless the venue pays for a licensing fee, the BMI artist can’t cash in, right? I wouldn’t be surprised if many venues in SA, especially the small ones, don’t pay any fees.

“Actually, I would bet that most venues in SA that need a license already have one,” said Bailey. “If not, we’re probably pursuing them already.  BMI Live will pay songwriters at a reduced rate on unlicensed venues for the first year, but if the venue is not licensed after that year, we will not pay on performances there.”

So there you have it: go to bmi.com and, if they convince you, do what you have to do before March 31.


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