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Songwriters Pen Open Letter To American Music Publishing Community: Why Can’t We Be Friends?



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songwriter and composer
from around the world have joined
forces in an open letter directed toward the American Music
Publishing Community
regarding the ongoing debate
surrounding publishing rights


The letter exposes the National Music
Publishers Association
‘s (NMPA) refusal to discuss
unilateral withdraw by publishers of rights
repertoire from performing rights
and BMI.
Believing a conversation NMPA deemed “inappropriate” and
suggested would “prove fruitless” is critical, the
American Federation of Musicians (AFM) penned the following
formally asking NMPA to reconsider
allowing both communities to work together to find a mutually
beneficial resolution. 

To the American Music Publishing Community,

We are an international alliance of songwriter and composer
organizations representing tens of thousands of music creators
throughout the world, many of whom have created musical works
in which you claim rights. We recently reached out to your
trade organization, the National Music Publishers Association
(NMPA), hoping the Association would agree to have a discussion
with us regarding unilateral withdrawal by publishers of rights
and repertoire from the performing rights organizations ASCAP
and BMI. 

While the discussion we requested was well within the bounds of
applicable competition laws, the response we received from the
NMPA was disappointing. In a letter from NMPA’s General
Counsel, we were told that the talks we were seeking would be
“inappropriate” and would “prove fruitless.” Because we believe
there is still much to be gained from an open dialogue with
publishers, we are reaching out to each of you directly seeking
immediate discussion between our communities.

It is a matter of public record that some music publishers have
announced they are considering withdrawing rights and
repertoire from ASCAP and BMI, and licensing those rights
directly to users.

These statements assume that publishers possess the legal
authority to make such a unilateral withdrawal of works and
rights on behalf of music creators and their families, without
exception. We disagree.

While our organizations support the
exploration of all opportunities that might increase royalty
rates for music creators and publishers, we feel strongly that
the songwriters, composers and others we represent maintain
their right to decide who collects and administers performing
rights royalties on their behalf.  

Further, we feel that any direct performance licenses
negotiated by publishers require complete transparency
concerning both the full terms of any direct licensing
arrangement, and complete information necessary to determine
the royalties each music creator is owed.

Again, we are reaching out to discuss how we can work together
for our mutual benefit. As an interim step, however, to
preserve the rights of the songwriters, composers and heirs
that we represent, this letter shall serve as formal
notification on their behalf that each reserves the right to
oppose any claims relating to alleged publisher authority to
unilaterally withdraw rights and repertoire from the PROs,
unless such reservations are specifically waived in writing by
an individual creator. In no event should silence by any music
creator represented by the members of this alliance be
construed as acquiescence or waiver.


Rick Carnes, Songwriters Guild
of America
International Council of Music Creators (CIAM)
Music Creators North America (MCNA)
European Composers and Songwriter Alliance (ECSA)
Society of Composers and
Songwriter’s Association of Canada (SAC)
Screen Composers Guild of Canada (SCGC)
Latin American Composers and Authors Alliance (PACSA)
Société Professionelle des Auteurs et des Compositeurs du
Québec (SPACQ)
Pan-African Composers and Songwriter Alliance (PACSA)


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