April 6, 2009



For almost 50 years I’ve been a member of Broadcast Music, Incorporated, the organization that collects radio and TV performances for songwriters and publishers. I was a staunch supporter of it as a songwriter, when I was General Manager of Warner Brothers Music, and when I ran Irving-Almo Music.


When I went into business for myself 30 years ago, Ron Anton, my friend and senior VP at BMI, named my company Wayne Art Music, which I’ve always been proud of. Now I have to look at the organization with a big question mark, because of a practice they recently initiated.


Up until the last quarter, if a songwriter earned less than $50.00 BMI wouldn’t issue a check until the amount owed exceeded that minimum. Now they have raised the minimum amount to $250.00, FIVE TIMES THE AMOUNT IT WAS A FEW MONTHS AGO, before they issue a check!


Are they crazy? Yeah crazy like a fox, it sounds like someone in accounting came up with this brilliant idea to hold onto millions of dollars of the songwriters diminishing royalties for as long as possible…and who’s going to complain?

Most songwriters who are affected by this are too old; too tired, or too stoned to fight for what is rightfully theirs…so they let it slide.


I’m sorry, but I can’t let this go! In recent years I’ve lost money due to illegal downloads, piracy, unscrupulous record and publishing companies. I never expected an organization who is supposed to be on the songwriter’s side to treat us all like this!


What can we look forward to in a year the minimum being raised to $1000.00…$2,000 dollars? Can you imagine the tens of thousands of songwriters, publishers, and estates who will be affected by this?



Copyright 2009 by Artie wayne




  1. Don Casale Says:

    This is just another scheme BMI came up with to pay the rent, which comes at a time when many writers, I suspect, are having trouble paying theirs. A threat of a mass exodus to ASCAP would take care of this problem, but that might be a clerical nightmare if it were to take place. A letter-writing campaign to BMI should be the first approach, I would think.

  2. Jerry Bailey Says:

    Artie —
    If you will ask BMI to direct deposit your royalties to your bank account, nothing will be withheld until you reach a certain minimum. This is simply an effort by BMI to encourage songwriters to use direct deposit, which will increase effeciency and reduce overhead, which will benefit all BMI songwriters through increased royalties. Nobody is trying to screw you — but rather you are being encouraged to adapt to a better way of getting paid. No postage, no checks to lose, no trips to the bank, no delay at the post office. I’m amazed that nobody explained this to you!

  3. tom slocum Says:

    BMI is mirroring the SAG rules, which suck. Direct Deposit is fine, thou, O remember the old days when a writer/publisher could go in and ask for a advance of say 10K, and get it, those days are gone..Good post artie.

  4. Joe Nelson Says:

    The thought of a mass exodus to ASCAP might make some sense, although they too have a minimum (I have yet to recieve a payment from them as I’ve never made it above the minimum, whatever it may be). Direct deposit is worth looking into, but in the end I suspect it’s all being blamed on inflation – today’s $250 is what $50 was worth yesterday.

    • Pasquale Says:

      Let’s not forget SESAC, they have more than proven to the industry that relationships are number one and SESAC has close relationships with their affiliates.

  5. How terribly unsurprising.

  6. Like Elliott said, very unsurprising move.

  7. Brian Engel Says:

    Dear Artie,

    I run a relatively large publishing co in the UK, on behalf of, predominantley, Indian and Bollywood copyright owners (writers and companies).

    It may interest you to know that my sub publishers in Holland/Belgium (via BUMA/STEMRA) will not forward on anything UNDER 125 Euros!

    It is too early in the day for me to work out how many actual US dollars that is, but I am sure its a lot more than 50.

    If things are tough in the US, think yourself lucky you aren’t based in the UK/Europe. I may try that Direct Deposit thing in Holland and see if that helps.

    However, I AM paid in the UK by the PRS by Direct Deposit and, for digital, download royualties (like iTunes etc) they won’t pay royalties for under £30 (which is not far short of $50); and that’s WITH Direct Deposit. How much more automated can you get? A computer MAKES 2/3rds of the record, generates the music on the web/phone etc , logs the plays (allegedly) and then analyses the payment and transfers it to the bank; where is the “admin”? Why the £30 minimum?

  8. Rex Strother Says:

    I agree with Jerry Bailey above.

    With BMI handling 375,000 different songwriters/publishers – going to Direct Deposit makes sense in this modern, digital banking time. Anything that cuts overhead costs for them makes me happy.

    I have been a BMI member since 2000 (small publisher) and receive small direct deposits (followed by a mailed statement) with happy regularity.

    It is clear from the BMI website that BMI will make a year-end “paper check” payout if your royalties have reached $25.00 – even if you have not made the higher quarterly minimums. If you only earn $25.00 a year, I don’t think your rent problems are caused by royalty delay.

    So, go direct deposit and there’s only a $2.00 minimum. What could be better?

    P.S.: Artie – that’s a bolt, not a screw.

  9. David Spinozza Says:

    Unbelievable! I have been with BMI my whole life.
    Thank you for keeping me informed.

    David Spinozza

  10. 411 Says:

    If you ask me, the 250.00 minimum is the least of our problems with BMI. They are doing some very interesting shifting of money and there is absolutely no accountability regarding their quarter-to-quarter rates. We have no idea what the formulas are or the numbers that their accountants are crunching. I wonder what the salaries are at BMI? Why do we pay for an office in Puerto Rico? Why is every single position there given a title such as; “Director”, “Associate Director”, “Vice President”, etc…. these are very lofty titles for jobs that we have no idea as to what functions they actually perform.

    If you’re a BMI employee you have paid vacations, health benefits, etc…. who pays for all that? The writers and the publishers. Have you ever been invited to an awards dinner or the Sundance conference in Aspen? I bet you haven’t. Who pays for that? The writers and the publishers. I could go on and on….. but let’s see if anybody responds to this.

  11. […] carried AdSense, so I have at least some excuse for this particular misapprehension. And besides, it’s consistent with music-industry practice: Up until the last quarter, if a songwriter earned less than $50.00 BMI wouldn’t issue a […]

  12. This is a good approach to what, for some, may be a controversial topic. Very well though out post. – Computers are useless. They can only give you answers. Attributed to Pablo Picasso

  13. Joe Nelson Says:

    I’ve been a BMI writer for over 30 years and I have never had any issue with getting paid on my royalties. It costs more money to send a physical check today than it did 10 years ago. If BMI can deliver small amounts more efficiently this way then I’m all for it. Less overhead for BMI means more money to writers and publishers in the long run. Just my thoughts

  14. Ivan S Chin Says:

    I started with BMI May 26th.2006 they promised to send me quarterly statements, but until this year 2011 I have not received any, they also do not reply to any E- mail I sent them.
    I have never thought a business with this name BMI could be so worthless, I have not received any payments either. I am the publisher of Chin’s Caylipso, EF Williams & Alerth Bedasse Jamaica now in Toronto Canada.
    Ivan Chin

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