BMI to Open Austin Office
Performance rights organization landing locally in 2019
By Kevin Curtin,
9:01AM, Thu. Nov. 8, 2018
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.