EMI Music Publishing Taking Over Licensing Digital Rights From ASCAP

EMI Music Publishing is bundling performance rights previously represented by ASCAP with mechanical and syncronization rights in a move to streamline licensing for digital music service providers, the company announced in a statement today.

In making the move - which took effect this past May 1st --  EMI is reasserting its exclusive rights to license performing rights for its 200,000-song strong EMI April Music catalog to digital accounts. ASCAP will continue to license EMI's performance rights with respect to traditional media services, including television and radio stations, according to the announcement.

"The digital world demands a new way of licensing rights in musical compositions," said EMI Music Publishing Chairman & CEO Roger Faxon, who also serves as EMI Group CEO. "Today we are embarking on that new way. We are reunifying the rights in many of the songs that we represent. By bringing these rights back together our aim is to reduce the burden of licensing, to create greater efficiency and importantly to reduce the barriers to the development of innovative new services. That absolutely has to be in the interest of everybody involved in the process -- songwriters, licensees and consumers alike."

When asked whether EMI will pursue a similar strategy concerning the rights now represented by other U.S. societies, a company spokesman declined to comment on "any future plans."

The EMI move has been anticipated, if not in particular, in general, by other publishing executives, who say that the digital marketplace is ripe for publishers not only to go direct on performance licensing, but also to go direct on a worldwide basis.

Publishers often rely on local performing societies and sub-publishers in other countries around the world. While there will always be a need to have boots on the ground for a large percentage of performance royalties -- such as tracking in-store play and live shows at concerts and bars -- music publishing experts say direct global licensing to digital music service providers will likely be the wave of the future.