Where Do My BMI Music Licensing Dollars Really Go? (By Dan Spears- Vice President of Industry Relations and Licensing, BMI)

That question is frequently asked when business owners look into securing a BMI music license and the answer is quite simple.  All licensing fees, less BMI’s operating expenses, are paid directly to over 750,000 of its affiliates.  Currently, 88 cents of every dollar brought in from licensing fees is distributed to BMI songwriters, composers, and music publishers in the form of royalties.

The U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to grant patents and copyrights, giving copyright owners the exclusive right to publicly perform or authorize performances of their works. In most cases, that permission comes in the form of a music license. Besides the fact that it is the law for a business to obtain a music license if playing copyrighted music in a public setting, songwriters also deserve to be fairly compensated for their creative works. In many ways, a songwriter could be considered the smallest of small business owners.  Just like restaurants and other businesses, some songwriters are extremely successful and highly celebrated in the media while the vast majority barely make ends meet. In fact, most songwriters are unknown to the people who use their music, and they depend on the money received from royalty checks to pay their bills.

“In today’s music industry environment… the one thing keeping songwriters afloat is that performance royalty check,” said BMI Songwriter Thomas Lee Miller who has written number one hits for Brad Paisley, Tim McGraw, Trace Adkins and Joe Nichols, to name a few.

Music royalties are often a songwriter’s lifeline to continue creating the music that we enjoy and often take for granted because it’s such a part of our everyday lives. We hear it on the radio, online, at the gym, grocery stores, and at our favorite restaurants or pubs. Music is everywhere.

According to a recent survey conducted by Leger, Nine-in-ten or 88% of Americans are more likely to enjoy their experience in a bar/restaurant when hearing music and 83% are more likely to return.

Although just having music is an important component for any restaurateur to consider, live music is also another way to drive business. Out of those surveyed, 84% said that they enjoyed their experience more because of live music and 82% are more likely to return if live music is performed.

One way to reap the benefits that music brings is to hire local talent to perform on nights that tend to be a little slower. Not only does live music bring in customers, but it also brings enjoyment to the patrons, which raises revenue for you, the business owner, while supporting songwriters so they can continue with their craft of writing songs.

Proving this point, BMI recently took part in sponsoring the 3rd annual Island Hopper Festival in Southwest Florida which brought thousands to area hotels, restaurants, and bars during what is usually considered off-season. General Manager of Matanzas on the Bay and Petey’s Upper Deck, Glen Petrarca stated, “This unique opportunity for our guests to enjoy these premier songwriters in person was the talk of the town and drove in business to our restaurant and inn. This event is a great way to unite the interests of the songwriters and restaurants.” For more information on how you can get licensed with BMI, please visit www.bmi.com.