Pandora reaches direct deal with Universal Music Publishing

umpg 01 Pandora 01Pandora‘s right to include certain music recordings in its catalog has been complicated recently, requiring fast action and a type of negotiating Pandora has not favored in the past.

In December, the leading Internet radio service lost a court decision to BMI, which administers royalty collection for client publishers and composers. In that decision, the publishers won the right to remove their entire catalogs from BMI representation to Pandora. that right was declined in an earlier, nearly identical court case brought by ASCAP, another major publisher agency. the two decision came from different courts, and went in different directions.

In the BMI case, both Pandora and the publishers which work with BMI needed to decide how to proceed. Any publisher that dropped out of Pandora’s BMI-represented catalog would have to be removed from Pandora’s listening catalog. (That is to say, recorded tracks whose copyright is partially owned by publishers that decided to exit BMI’s representation to Pandora.)

Pandora doesn’t want to lose music that its listeners love. Publishers don’t want to lose Pandora’s exposure to 76-million active listeners. Hence — complications and decisions.

Now we have a clear result of those decisions. Pandora has privately come to terms with Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG). The recorded music whose composing/publishing credit belongs to UMPG can stay in Pandora stations. That music represents, in UMPG’s words, “The world’s greatest song catalog from the No.1 global leader in music publishing.” UMPG composers are nominated for 109 Grammy Awards. So — hits galore. Pandora moved quickly with direct negotiations — unusualy for the service which has relied on government-set royalty rates for the U.S. market — to keep an important repertoire in the house.

Brad Hill