Streaming is not just causing a seismic shift in recorded music revenue, its disrupting music publishing and performing rights, as well. Mechanical licenses handled by Harry Fox were once a lucrative business, but as tracks sales decline and streaming rises, performing rights have become an increasingly valuable business.
Privately owned performing rights agency SESAC has purchased mechanical licensing leader The Harry Fox Agency for an undisclosed sum rumored to be north of $35 million. Harry Fox is owned by the National Music Publishers Association. This new deal would allow SESAC to make deals for mechanical licenses alongside broadcast, digital and performance royalty collection.
ASCAP and BMI are prevented by federal law from handling mechanical licenses, but are seeking to change that.
“If the SESAC-H.F.A. deal goes through, it may signal the start of a new cycle of competition, consolidation and deal-making in the global music rights industry,” Larry Miller, an associate professor of music business at the Steinhardt School at N.Y.U. told the New York Times.
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