If you've been researching performing rights organizations (PROs), you've probably heard of the big names like BMI and ASCAP. But if you stop your research there, you could be leaving your business unprotected. There is a smaller, but very powerful, PRO you will also need to know about.
Global Music Rights (or GMR) is making quite a splash in the PRO world, and if you play music from this PRO without paying for that right, you could be subject to a hefty fine.
What Is GMR?
GMR was founded in 2013, and according to the company's website, this was the first PRO to be developed in the United States for nearly 75 years. Chances are, people didn't think they needed another PRO added to the mix. BMI and ASCAP had connections that ran deep within the industry, and they had vast libraries full of the music people might want to play within their businesses. But the founder at GMR felt that he could improve on the PRO model.
The founder of GMR is a man named Irving Azoff, and as a profile of the man in Variety points out, he has a long and varied business career. Azoff has:
- Served as the CEO of two record labels.
- Spearheaded Live Nation, a live-entertainment company.
- Managed musical acts.
- Been involved with the management of five companies at the same time.
With a resume like this, people expect Azoff to do great things within the PRO industry. Since he has worked in the music industry, his name tends to inspire trust, which means he might be able to get clients quicker than someone who has never worked in the music industry before.
Since GMR is a new player on the PRO scene, it's not surprising that their representation list is small. According to Hollywood Reporter, the company has a library that includes only 74 songwriters. But those songwriters could arguably be considered some of the most important musicians available.
For example, GMR represents:
- Bruno Mars
- Bruce Springsteen
- Harry Styles
- Leon Bridges
These aren't obscure artists you have never heard of before. This is a list of artists who create work you might hear on any radio station, in any club, or in any home. These are popular works that people want. You may want work from these artists to play within the walls of your business.
GMR signs artists frequently, and sometimes, the company poaches artists from other PROs. In January 2017, for example, GMR obtained performing rights for songs by Prince. According to Music Connection, the Prince estate was swayed to make a switch due to the heightened customer service and control the company offered when compared to other PROs.
Iconoclastic artists in the Prince model might have similar concerns about working with existing PROs, and they might also be persuaded to shift to this newer model.
Financial Details You Should Know About
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 access you have, the types of music you can play, and how much you will pay for that access. 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.
It can be tempting to simply skirt the law and play the music you want. This is a risky tactic. GMR can send scouts into the community, looking for instances of music played without permission. If someone from the organization walks into your bar and hears Bruno Mars coming from your loudspeaker, you have been caught.
Letters are the preferred mode of contact for PROs. 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 can be sent to court.
The letters GMR might send you are not based on their opinion or a sense of fairness. They are meant to help you understand that you are in violation of the Federal Copyright Act. They have the right to send these letters, and the law will back them up.
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 attorney’s fees for GMR.
- Your own attorney’s fees.
- License fees, if you want to continue playing the music.
Even if the representatives of GMR wanted to go a little easy on you and reduce your burden, they could not do so. These are fees that are written right into the law, and if you lose a case, you will be required to pay them.
On the company's website, GMR claims to strive to make licensing simple. They offer blanket licenses that allow you to play all of the music within the library at 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. In order for companies to determine how much a license will cost, they must answer several questions about the size, type, and use of their business. An algorithm determines how much the license will cost, and it can vary dramatically from business to business.
The fees you pay are made to support the people who create the music you love. But there is no way to determine how much of your fee goes to the musicians, songwriters, and other experts who create the tunes. GMR does not make that information public.
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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 Cloud Cover Music, 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.
- About Us. Global Music Rights.
- Mega-Manager Irving Azoff Grows Business With Diverse Portfolio. (July 2018). Variety.
- Irving Azoff Song Licensing Outfit Gains Edge in Antitrust Battle With Radio Stations. (November 2017). The Hollywood Reporter.
- Global Music Rights Sign Prince Estate for Performing Rights. (January 2017). Music Connection.
- Copyright Infringement Penalties. Purdue University.
- How Does a Blanket License Work? Global Music Rights.