Radio Stations Accused of Being Illegal Cartel By Global Music Rights
Global Music Rights (GMR) on behalf of its 71 songwriters alleges that more than 10,000 U.S. radio stations wrongfully colluded to underpay songwriters to play songs on the radio. GMR, a company founded by artist-activist Irving Azoff, filed suit against the Radio Music Licensing Committee (RMLC) in federal court for antitrust violations.
“This is the most important fight of my professional life,” Azoff said. “I will not stop the fight for fairness to artists and songwriters.”
According to GMR’s complaint, the cartel controls more than 90% of radio industry revenue, reaches more than 245 million listeners weekly and represents more than 10,000 U.S. radio stations. Attorney Daniel Petrocelli of O’Melveny & Myers, who represents GMR, said that station owners conspired to exercise their “collective muscle” and keep their music costs low rather than compete with one another for content.
“This cartel has been a smashing success,” Petrocelli said. “Music is the lifeblood of terrestrial radio but, because of the conspiracy, owners of terrestrial radio stations pay only about 4% of their revenue—a tiny fraction—to the songwriters who create that music. Other media distributors such as streaming music services, which are not part of the terrestrial radio cartel, pay substantially more money to songwriters.”
GMR is the first new company in the performance rights business in 70 years, and its emergence has shaken up the entire industry.
GMR’s repertory includes songs performed by John Lennon, Justin Bieber, Smokey Robinson, Steve Miller, Shakira, Drake, Randy Travis and Kenny Chesney. According to the lawsuit, everyone is harmed by this radio industry conspiracy.
Songwriters aren’t compensated fairly for their works, new composers are not incentivized to write new hits, and radio listeners could be blocked from hearing their favorite songs. “That is where the law steps in,” said Petrocelli. “Incentivizing creativity is the basic tenet of copyright law and the reason Irving started GMR.”
GMR is seeking antitrust damages, which are tripled under the law, and an injunction forbidding the cartel from continuing its anticompetitive conduct. For more information about Global Music Rights, please visit: www.globalmusicrights.com