Irving Azoff's Global Music Rights Wins Significant Victory in Case against RMLC

The Radio Music Licensing Committee’s ugly antitrust lawsuit against Irving Azoff’s Global Music Rights company continues to drag on.

Irving Azoff’s performance rights organization, Global Music Rights (GMR), doesn’t exactly see eye-to-eye with terrestrial radio group Radio Music Licensing Committee (RMLC).

According to the RMLC, Azoff and GMR major radio broadcasters into paying higher performance fees.  GMR has also used its catalog of high-powered hits to force the higher radio rates.  The radio group negotiates licensing fees for around 10,000 radio stations across the U.S. – 90% of the market.

RMLC has also accused Azoff and its PRO of antitrust violations.

GMR, in turn, has accused RMLC of paying too little.  Earlier this year, the PRO’s attorneys lambasted the radio group for attempting to introduce ‘useless’ new evidence in the case.

GMR countersued, claiming the radio group has also engaged in bullying antitrust tactics, likening the organization an “illegal cartel.”

This fight first started three years ago.

Now, Azoff and GMR have won a small – but significant – victory.

Time to change courtroom venues.

Irving Azoff first launched Global Music Rights in 2013 to upend the way radio stations license music.

In the latest round, US District Court Judge C. Darnell Jones II ruled last Friday he doesn’t have “personal jurisdiction” over GMR.  Thus, he transferred the case to a federal court in Los Angeles, GMR’s hometown.  The PRO has long argued the case belongs in California.

Lambasting the radio group, GMR had stated RMLC filed in Pennsylvania just to gain “tactical advantage.”  This, said the PRO, was basically “forum shopping.”

In a statement celebrating the ruling, Azoff said,

I am thrilled with today’s victory.

Now, Global Music Rights gets to expose the radio cartel’s bullying tactics.

“It’s always worth the wait when artists win.

Currently, GMR and RMLC operate under an interim licensing agreement as the argument continues to drag on in court.

GMR’s countersuit remains on hold in California pending the result of the recently-transferred lawsuit.



Irving Azoff's GMR Faces a Serious Setback Against U.S. Radio Stations

Irving Azoff's GMR Faces a Serious Setback Against U.S. Radio Stations

Expect the bitter fight between Irving Azoff’s Global Music Rights and the Radio Music Licensing Committee to continue dragging on.

Several years ago, influential manager Irving Azoff had an idea.  Why not start a performance rights organization (PRO) to fight for songwriters?

So, he formed Global Music Rights (GMR) in 2013 to compete against established PROs ASCAP and BMI.  Both had controlled around 95% of all music copyrights in the US at the time.

Global Music Rights quickly gained support among a small group of influential songwriters and publishers.  GMR’s current members include Pharrell Williams, Harry Styles, and John Mayer, among many others.

Then, Azoff’s PRO hit a roadblock.

During negotiations with the Radio Music Licensing Committee (RMLC) in 2016, Azoff and GMR had reportedly aimed to ensure its members earned more from radio plays than ASCAP and BMI.  Talks quickly broke down.

In response, the RMLC – which represents the interests of over 10,000 US radio stations – filed a lawsuit against GMR.  In its November 2016 lawsuit filed in the Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania, the radio licensing group accused Azoff and GMR of setting up a music licensing monopoly.

The PRO allegedly violated antitrust laws by acting as a monopoly for works contained in its repertory.  It also isn’t regulated by a third-party mediator.  The US Department of Justice, for example, regulates ASCAP and BMI.  In negotiations with the RMLC, SESAC agreed to third-party mediation.  But GMR was accused of charging extortionate, anti-competitive prices to RMLC members without submitting to a third-party.

In response, Irving Azoff’s PRO filed a counter lawsuit in the US District Court in Los Angeles.  GMR accused the radio licensing group of operating an “illegal cartel.”  Its members – which includes influential radio broadcasters such as CBS Radio and Cumulus Media – allegedly agreed with one another and the RMLC to artificially depress licensing fees member stations would pay to perform musical compositions on the radio.

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Azoff’s PRO wrote,