Billboard reported something incredibly interesting today, and it hints at the desperation within the record industry. Apparently, BMI has been walking into random bars in the United States and threatening venues with jukeboxes that contain BMI material with legal action. TMZ reported this, and said that these small business owners were reportedly quoted at $150,000 per violation.
BMI is asking that TMZ remove this story. Not because of the ridiculous claim that they are pushing people that probably don’t know any better to stop playing their music in small venues without cutting them in, but because the $150,000 amount is the MAXIMUM fine. They just want everyone to be clear that they didn’t indicate this hefty dollar amount. Instead of a fluffy statement to say “we understand that these are small business owners, and we want to ensure that they are in compliance when taking money in exchange for our material being played,” they are essentially saying “yeah, we walked into random bars to flex, but the amount of money we are asking for isn’t quite correct.”
Record sales have dropped significantly since the explosion of the digital age, and the refusal of labels to conform to these changes left them looking lost. While most electronic dance musicians are on smaller or independent labels, this is a warning sign for things to come. As EDM continues to dominate the U.S. market, catalogs and songs from your favorite artists will surely be signed more frequently. We’re wondering who’s really winning. With too many hands in the pot, there will be a frantic jump by labels, publishers, liscensers, and distributers to monetize in any way possible. What’s next, getting ticketed for playing published material while stuck in traffic?