As the Radio Music Licensing Committee prepares for a 2020 trial against Irving Azoff’s Global Music Rights organization, the RMLC was hit with some bad news yesterday. The U.S. Department of Justice weighed in on the issue, siding with GMR. The DOJ’s anti-trust division said the RMLC’s argument to dismiss the GMR lawsuit was wrong. DOJ has no stake in the lawsuit, however, both sides did meet with the government earlier this year.
The Government agency says “RMLC wrongly argues that GMR’s complaint does not plead price fixing.” GMR lead counsel Dan Petrocelli said, “The court filing by the Department of Justice reaffirms the legal position of GMR and vindicates the rights of artists and songwriters to be free from illegal price-fixing by radio stations.”
Azoff’s GMR is similar to BMI and ASCAP, which radio already pays, and includes artists such as Drake, Bruce Springsteen, Bruno Mars, the Eagles, and Smokey Robinson. Radio stations have been operating directly with GMR in short-term side deals while the lawsuit works its way to trial. RMLC Executive Director Bill Velez told Radio Ink this week that the two sides were going through the discovery process in the run up to a trial targeted for very late next year.
Earlier this week radio stations were sent letters by GMR stating that their deals might be used as evidence in the lawsuit between RMLC and GMR, drawing individual stations into this fight for the first time.
GMR calls the RMLC “a 78-year-old cartel that dominates the $22 billion terrestrial radio industry.” Where GMR gets that $22 billion figure is a complete mystery. Radio is about a $13-$14 billion industry.
Whatever that number is, GMR says members of the RMLC illegally collude with one another to suppress rates paid to songwriters and composers for the public performance of their work.
Azoff said Thursday was a great day for artists who have been bullied by the RMLC since the dawn of the modern radio industry. “Advocating on behalf of artists is our founding principle, and we refused to allow this unfair status quo to continue. We believe the days of this brazen, long-running cartel are now numbered. GMR has never been prouder to stand with songwriters to fight back.”