The Tennessean has a copy of the letter Sony/ATV Chairman and CEO Martin Bandier sent to songwriters he sent on July 9. It stated the company was exploring the withdrawal of its licensing rights from ASCAP and BMI if federal regulators don't allow for the partial withdrawal of its digital rights from the nation's largest performance rights organizations.
Bandier wants to be able to secure more favorable licensing deals with companies like Pandora. As noted in the story above, Sony/ATV tried to withdraw some of its digital performance rights from ASCAP and BMI, but a judge ruled the company needed to be all in or all out. Sony/ATV has appealed that ruling.
In his letter Bandier says, "By withdrawing certain rights and entering into direct deals, the process becomes more efficient, less costly and, ultimately, more transparent and beneficial for everyone." Labels such as Sony/ATV complain companies like Pandora do not pay fair rates to songwriters and publishers. Pandora would sort of agree with that. They would argue they do not pay fair rates either, that they pay too much and the playing field is not level or fair for them. Pandora has not been able to make a profit yet due to its high music expenses.
BMI Senior VP and General Counsel Stuart Rosen told the Tennessean that "Given the resulting requirement that they must consider whether they remain 'all in' or 'all out,' it is understandable that publishers would be reviewing all possible options for their songwriters. It is a shame, however, that major publishers like Sony/ATV would have to leave BMI in order to explore the possibility of free-market negotiations, all because of an antiquated regulatory framework."
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