Following the Copyright Royalty Board’s ruling to raise Pandora’s royalty rates, last week Pandora announced new licensing agreements with the country’s two largest performing-rights societies, Broadcast Music Inc. and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. Although the precise terms remain under wraps, these blanket licenses will govern Pandora’s right to play ASCAP’s and BMI’s 20 million songs for the next few years. Pandora, ASCAP, and BMI jointly stated that these licenses “allow both ASCAP and BMI to further their goal of delivering improved performance royalties for their songwriters and publishers, while Pandora will benefit from greater rate certainty and the ability to add new flexibility to the company’s product offering over time.”
ASCAP and BMI are reacting positively to the new agreements. Mike O’Neill, BMI president and CEO, said, “We’re extremely pleased to reach this deal with Pandora that benefits the songwriters, composers, and publishers we are privileged to represent.” ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews echoed the same sentiment: “This agreement is good news for music fans and music creators, who are the heart and soul of ASCAP, and a sign of progress in our ongoing push for improved streaming payments for songwriters, composers, and music publishers that reflect the immense value of our members’ creative contributions.”
These agreements end years of legal battling between the three music industry giants. Pandora sued ASCAP back in 2012, seeking to lower its royalty rates, and BMI sued Pandora in 2013, seeking to raise Pandora’s rates. Up until last week’s announcement, Pandora’s appeal of the court’s decision to raise its rates with respect to BMI was pending.