BMI to Open Austin Office

Performance rights organization landing locally in 2019

BMI, the major performance rights organization that collects licensing fees for over 800,000 songwriters and publishers globally, has solidified plans to open a creative office in Austin next year, a representative for the company confirmed this morning.

The Texas Music Office and Austin-based music advocate/real estate mogul Gary Keller had been actively courting BMI since the spring – as “Playback” reported at the time. Liz Fischer, BMI’s vice president of corporate communications & marketing, says they intend to have the office open by March for South by Southwest. They’ve already secured temporary office space and are eyeing property Downtown and on South Congress for a permanent home.

A press release reveals that BMI is “actively conducting a search for the Creative executive to lead this office.” That person will report to BMI’s Creative Vice President Jody Williams, who the Chronicle has previously noted as a champion of Austin songwriters since the Seventies, as well as Assistant VP Mason Hunter. Both Williams and Hunter work out of BMI’s Nashville office. BMI also has representation in Los Angeles, Nashville, Miami, Puerto Rico, London, and Atlanta.

Meanwhile, this is the first time Austin will have a performance rights organization (PRO) stationed locally. Potentially, it could bolster the business infrastructure obviously lacking from our vaunted music playground, as well as draw publishing companies TO Austin.

Mike O’Neill, president and CEO of BMI, said in the release: “BMI has been active in the Texas music community for decades, and as their creative community has grown, we’ve grown along with them. Having a permanent presence in Austin is the next logical step, and we look forward to building on our many relationships within the industry to help give Texas songwriters all the support they need to create their greatest music. We’re thrilled to call Austin our newest home.”

Indeed, BMI has long had a presence at Austin events. In the late Eighties, it was the first major sponsor of a new music conference called SXSW. Since 2003, BMI has stocked a stage at ACL Fest.

BMI, founded in 1939, stands for Broadcast Music Inc. Along with competitors ASCAP and SESAC, it collects licensing fees for songwriters and publishers, based on their music’s uses, then pays them royalty statements.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More BMI
SXSW Music News: Mitch Ballard Named Head of BMI’s New Austin Office
SXSW Music News: Mitch Ballard Named Head of BMI’s New Austin Office
Texas governor welcomes performance rights organization

Kevin Curtin, March 13, 2019

More by Kevin Curtin
Crucial Concerts for the Coming Week
Crucial Concerts for the Coming Week
Women of Antone's, underground MCs, FuckEmos, and more recommended shows

March 24, 2023

Hearing the Imperceptible as Laraaji Collaborates With Plants in a Church
Hearing the Imperceptible as Laraaji Collaborates With Plants in a Church
Welcome to the most curious performance of SXSW Music 2023

March 19, 2023


BMI, Texas Music Office, Gary Keller, Liz Fischer, Jody Williams

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle