Help! New Music Service Organizations Answer the Call

Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) is a performing rights organization founded in 1940 that has grown to represent musicians from all over the map, including Foo Fighters, Milton Babbitt, Bush, k.d. lang, Michael Torke, Blues Traveler, and Garbage.

In addition to protecting a composer’s rights, BMI offers a number of different services. In 1985, the BMI Foundation was established as a separate entity from BMI. It works to seek out the most promising musical creators to support and foster their growth. The Foundation offers programs focusing on jazz, classical, musical theater, music education, as well as grant opportunities for organizations that support contemporary composers. Activities include a conducting scholarship, commissioning, workshops for young film composers, and much more, including the annual BMI Student Composer Award.

BMI’s advocacy work includes its work through the Office of Government Relations. According to Ralph Jackson, Assistant Vice President of Classical Music Relations, “the office works with representatives of federal, state, and local governments to educate them about issues of copyright that could affect our affiliates. We also educate our affiliates about legislative activity that could affect them, and run grassroots initiatives that include letters to Congress, meetings with government representatives, and visits to Capitol Hill. BMI is dedicated to protecting the rights of our affiliates both nationally and abroad. We have also joined with other concerned composer, publisher and music industry organizations in addressing the issue of government censorship at the national, state or local levels, as well as opposing the building of barriers or quotas against American repertoire abroad.”

BMI’s Web site, launched in 1994, was the first put up by a music industry company. Jackson states, “today, it is the only Web site listing every feature song and composition in the company’s repertoire of more than 3,000,000 works. In April, 1995, BMI became the first performing rights organization to license music on the Internet and since that time, BMI has licensed hundreds of Internet sites, including some of the Web’s largest music users, such as broadcast.com, imagineradio.com, spinner.com, and others.

In April, BMI announced a new series of initiatives to help its members take advantage of new technologies. “The Horizon Project,” as it has been dubbed, will provide composers with a number of benefits. For example: Composers will have a secure Web domain where they can keep track of their information. Royalty information will be available via secure e-mail. Publishers can register works online. Cue sheets from film and television producers will be filed electronically.

Jackson also says that BMI’s copyright information systems development will include “a next generation architecture for a global ‘virtual database’ of musical works, permitting performing rights societies to exchange information directly among their mainframe computers.” BMI will also release BMIMusicBot reports, including information on worldwide trends of music on the Internet.

From Help! New Music Service Organizations Answer the Call
by Karissa Krenz
© 1999 NewMusicBox