Music publishing giants Warner/Chappell, Peer Music, Sony/ATV, Universal Publishing and BMG could leave Spanish rights’ society SGAE by the start of next year as a months-long spat over the “mistreatment” of broadcast rights heats up.
The row apparently kicked off late last year when reps for Warner/Chappell, Peer Music and EMI Songs, were reportedly tossed from the PRO’s board of directors for surpassing term limits, which they countered.
SGAE then replaced the publishers on its board with reps of publishers owned or affiliated with Spanish television stations, in a scheme opponents dubbed “The Wheel.” The publishers took up the issue with the courts, which rejected their appeal, Billboard reports.
Now, the publishers are looking at other options to manage their authors’ royalties. According to local media reports, the companies last Friday effectively handed in their six months’ notice and requested the PRO remove their international repertoire in relation to broadcasting.
“The goal could be to withdraw the management of most of the remaining rights within five years,” putting the publishers in direct competition with SGAE, El Pais notes.
Those companies at war with SGAE collectively represent some 60% of broadcasting music rights in Spain, including artists such as Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, Lady Gaga, Radiohead, Jay-Z, Enrique Iglesias, Beyoncé, Led Zeppelin and Buena Vista Social Club, among many hundreds.
SGAE collected 246 million euros in royalties last year, with television and broadcast royalties accounting for more than 12 percent of the total.
The aggrieved publishers “swear that they would not want to leave the SGAE and that if things changed before January 2019 they may reconsider their decision,” the Spanish title reports.
Speaking on the so-called “wheel” Warner/Chappell Spain President Santiago Menendez-Pidal told Billboard the arrangement was “corrupt.”
Santiago Menéndez Pidal, General Director for the publisher in the Iberian Peninsula, told El Pais the situation was “a joke” and publishers said the distributions spun off by “the wheel” were “unfair.”