GMR Licensing: Fines, Costs, and Options

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Global Music Rights (or GMR) is a for-profit performing rights organization (PRO) that represents big names like Bruce Springsteen, Bruno Mars, and the Eagles. If you’re interested in playing music from these artists, you need a relationship with GMR.

Here’s what you need to know about how GMR works and how it compares to other PROs.

How Much Is a License & Is It Worth It?

GMR does not provide public pricing information. The company negotiates each contract individually based on factors like the type of business you own and how the music is presented to the public. You must contact the company directly to get a license.

Several other PROs use a similar model, encouraging people to contact the sales team for a price quote. This comparison table can help you understand how much most PROs charge for contracts:

Violation Table
Typical Cost Library Size Typical Artists
GMR Does not disclose 63,000 Bruce Springsteen, Bruno Mars, Prince, Drake, John Lennon, the Eagles
BMI $182 to $2,515 22.4 million Lady Gaga, Kendrick Lamar, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood
ASCAP $250 8 million Amy Grant, Gladys Knight, Tania Leon, U2
SESAC Does not disclose 44,000 Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Adele, Ariana Grande, Zac Brown

What is GMR?

GMR, which stands for Global Music Rights, was founded in 2013. According to the company's website, this was the first PRO to be developed in the United States for nearly 75 years.

GMR’s founder believed that the PRO industry was ripe for disruption, as very few companies were holding all of the rights to music, and they were both obligated to consent decrees they signed with the Department of Justice more than 80 years ago. These agreements limit how much PROs can negotiate for specific songs, and GMR believed they could do better.

Articles written in 2023 suggest that GMR’s bet has paid off, and the company has been negotiating better deals for its small client base. However, the company is tight-lipped about how much they make.

Which Artists Are With GMR?

GMR is considered a boutique PRO that represents a small roster of very popular songwriters. The company claims these artists deliver big revenue, and by keeping their client list so small, GMR can negotiate aggressively on their behalf and bring them larger revenue.

GMR represents top talent, including these artists:

  • Bruno Mars
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Prince
  • Drake Pharrell Williams
  • John Lennon
  • The Eagles
  • Smokey Robinson

Unlike other PROs, GMR is a for-profit agency that isn’t required to admit every artist who wants to join. Instead, it keeps the roster very small to ensure that songwriters get larger profits for their work.

Financial Details You Should Know About

How to Contact a PRO to Negotiate a Contract

If you want to play music that exists within the GMR library, you must have an agreement with GMR before you play that music. The agreement usually specifies the kind of library access you have, the genres of music or artists you can play, and how much you will pay for that access per month or per year.

An agreement with GMR is just an agreement with that organization. If you want to play music from the library of a different PRO, you will need a different agreement to play that music. You will pay GMR for access to its library while paying another PRO a different amount for access to its library.

It can be tempting to simply skirt the law and play the music you want since licensing fees can stack up and become expensive. This is a risky tactic.

Failing to negotiate a contract means you may be legally required to pay licensing fees to the PRO as well as additional fines and penalties for violating copyright law. GMR can send scouts into the community, looking for instances of music being played without permission. If someone from the organization walks into your bar and hears Bruno Mars coming from your loudspeaker, you have been caught.

What Happens if You Violate Intellectual Property Laws?

When a PRO’s agent discovers you have been illegally playing unlicensed music, the first thing the PRO might do is send you a letter informing you of the violation. Letters typically specify when you were caught playing music you are not authorized to play, how much you owe, and how you can sign up for a contract. If you ignore these letters for long enough, you might be taken to court.

GMR does not base their letters on their individual rules, but on intellectual property rights outlined by laws in the United States and, sometimes, internationally. These letters inform you that you are in violation of the Federal Copyright Act. They have the right to send these letters, and a court will back them up if you are playing music in your business without a license.

As Purdue University points out, a copyright infringement case comes with penalties built into the law. If you lose a case, you will be required to pay:

  • Somewhere between $200 and $150,000 for each piece of work you played without permission.
  • Court costs and attorneys’ fees for GMR.
  • Your own attorney’s fees.
  • License fees if you want to continue playing the music.

How GMR Simplifies the Licensing Process

On the company's website, GMR claims that they strive to make licensing simple. They offer blanket licenses that allow you to play all their music in their library for one fee rather than requiring you to negotiate a fee for each individual song.

The company does not, however, make pricing for blanket licenses transparent. For companies to determine how much a license will cost, they must answer several questions about the size, type, and use of their business.

Another Way to Play the Music You Love

While scrolling through the GMR playlist, you may see many familiar faces, and you may be tempted to form a contract with this organization and pull from their list of songs while ignoring all others. With one contract, you might think, you will get the music you want without a lot of hassle.

While you certainly could do this, the logistics might get tricky. You will need to monitor the list of GMR artists on a regular basis to ensure you aren't playing songs you are not allowed to play. You will need to keep your music locked down, as adding any kind of variety to the tunes you play could bump you out of compliance. That might mean relying on CDs alone, which makes management manual.

We offer a better way. At Pandora CloudCover, we have a firm relationship with GMR, meaning that we can offer you music from their catalog. Our library also includes music from other PROs, so you will have plenty of choices when you are selecting music for your business.

You won't have to manage your playlists for compliance. We will do that for you. And we offer some of the lowest licensing fees in the business with no need for a long-term contract. We would love to tell you more about what we can offer. Please contact us today and find out how to sign up for a free trial.


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