Sony reportedly laid off more than half of EMI Music Publishing staff after its buyout in 2012. A Sony Corp investor presentation that was uncovered from November 2014 confirms that the company cut EMI’s headcount by 60% within two years of the acquisition, a percentage that was predicted by the New York Times’ Ben Sisario in a report in 2012. The deck also claims that Sony reduced EMI’s costs by 67% while “streamlining worldwide recorded music operations.”
BMI collected a record breaking $1.06 billion last year, a 4.64% increase over last year’s revenue. The performing rights organization also increased their distribution to members by 6.16%, paying out $931 million to its songwriters and publishers. Domestically, $492 million came from television, cable and radio, $140 million came from general licenses, and $152 million came from digital licensees, up 51% from the previous year.
Music publishers, along with photo agencies, are battling claims of licensing works in the public domain. Following a $14 million lawsuit challenging Warner/Chappell’s claim on “Happy Birthday to You,” members of the rock band Satorii are challenging The Richmond Organization and Ludlow Music who are maintaining ownership of Woody Guthrie’s iconic folk song, “This Land.” The defendants are warning the judge that being permissive with these kinds of lawsuits could lead to consequences such as the ability of anyone wishing to record a version of a copyrighted song to challenge that copyright in federal court.