It’s Official: Needed RMLC Member OK Puts GMR Deal In Place


It was expected, yet some remained concerned that the necessary percentage of Radio Music License Committee (RMLC) members needed to approve an agreement was still out of reach.

Those worries can now be swept away. A settlement between the RMLC, a group representing several smaller and independently-owned radio stations, and the Irving Azoff-controlled Global Music Rights (GMR) has been reached.

News of the agreement, which RBR+TVBR learned on Friday was imminent, was first shared by Streamline Publishing’s co-owned Radio Ink early Monday.

The deal puts a settlement of long-running litigation between GMR and the RMLC over the royalties that the radio stations which are members of the Committee, led by Executive Director Bill Velez, will pay for the public performance of music written by composers aligned with GMR.

One condition of the settlement, an important one, called for a sufficient percentage of radio stations to opt into the deal by signing the form license agreement that
RMLC and GMR negotiated. The negotiated form license agreement, with member
stations’ annual license fees, was sent directly by GMR via e-mail. That sufficient percentage of signatures was met.

The new GMR licenses that radio stations represented by the RMLC signed will begin on April 1. An interim license previously agreed upon by the parties expires on March 31.

In a statement, Azoff said, “Global Music Rights stands for songwriters and the value of their music. I am proud of the GMR team for the hard work on behalf of songwriters in achieving this settlement. It is wonderful that GMR and thousands of radio stations coast to coast are partnered to bring great music to fans for many years.”

Speaking for the RMLC is its Chairman, Ed Atsinger III, the Executive Chairman and former CEO of Salem Media Group. Atsinger commented, “This settlement puts an end to more than five years of litigation and represents a shared desire by both sides to find a way for radio stations and GMR to work together on a long-term basis without repeatedly resorting to litigation.”

Litigation was perhaps an unfortunate hallmark of GMR’s battles with RMLC, as the settlement resolves antitrust litigation that dates to late 2016.  The battle was bruising, with RMLC striking first in November 2016. A month later, GMR countersued, assailing the RMLC as “an illegal cartel.”

With the deal, radio stations now have rights and royalty accords with GMR, SESAC, BMI and ASCAP. Despite these payments paid by radio, groups including musicFIRST, led by former New York Congressman Joe Crowley, are aggressively seeking Congressional approval of the American Music Fairness Act. While the AMFA was in the spotlight last week on Capitol Hill, it has far less support than the Local Radio Freedom Act, a resolution that serves as a pledge to vote against any legislation placing new fees on broadcast radio with respect to airplay of recorded music.