Music performing rights organization Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) has reported record revenue of $1.13 billion for fiscal 2017, the company announced Thursday.
Buoyed by new deals with Netflix and Hulu, BMI’s third consecutive year of revenue increase sees $1.023 billion distributed and administered to its affiliates – songwriters, composers and publishers – a 10% increase over the prior year’s payouts for the fiscal year ending June 30.
That new milestone for the organization marks a new high among PROs, according to BMI president and CEO Mike O’Neill, who characterized it as the most performance revenue and highest royalty distributions of any music rights organization in the world. ASCAP, BMI’s chief competitor, announced revenues of $1.059 billion in April.
“No matter how much the industry continues to evolve, BMI remains the leader in supporting songwriters, composers and publishers and maximizing their royalties across all platforms,” O’Neill said. “We are thrilled to have been able to achieve these record distributions, but we still believe our affiliates deserve more,” he said in a not-so-subtle message to those currently negotiating with the organization. “We will continue to work hard on their behalf to secure the full and fair value of their creative work.”
BMI is currently engaged in a legal battle with the U.S. Department of Justice, which is perceived to be trying to advance the cause of tech firms and other corporate licensees in their interests vis-à-vis the PROs.
The company’s total domestic revenue, encompassing digital, media, and general licensing, came in at a record $836 million, a $52 million or 7% increase over last year. Digital revenue saw its highest performance to date, up 7% to $163 million, helped in part by new long term agreements with Netflix and Hulu, among others. Media licensing came in at $524 million, a $32 million increase over last year driven by growth in the terrestrial radio, cable and satellite radio categories.
General licensing, which includes fees from businesses like restaurants, bars, hotels, shopping centers and fitness facilities, along with other income, grew a solid 7% to $149 million. The category added 13,000 new businesses to its growing portfolio.
International revenues grew to $294 million, an increase of $18 million or 7% over the prior year, even with the continued strengthening of the dollar against foreign currencies. BMI says it would have seen an additional $10 million in international revenue if not for the unfavorable exchange rates.
The $1.023 billion in total distributions was comprised of domestic and international royalties, as well as royalties from direct deals that BMI administers on behalf of its publishers. Those deals, which account for approximately 3% of BMI’s total distribution, helped the company achieve its record payments to affiliates. O’Neill said that while the administration of direct digital deals is relatively new, “we’re seeing the benefits across the board.”
Like ASCAP, BMI operates on a non-profit basis, returning the bulk of its venue to the musical creators and copyright owners it company represents. BMI says approximately 88% of its revenue was distributed back to affiliates.