Last year, BMI took some time to interview their Vice President of Digital licensing, David Levin, regarding the changing scope of music licensing in the digital age. As you likely know well, BMI is a powerhouse in the music industry, connecting the music creators with the businesses that want to utilize their music and — possibly most importantly — making sure they get properly paid.

When you work in the music licensing industry, you know well that being properly compensated is very important for musicians, but there are many situations in which this does not happen. The digital landscape has truly created too many ways for individuals to get free music, making it more and more difficult for the creators of songs to get paid the way they deserve.

The following represents a small sampling of the chat BMI posted on their website. You can view the full interview here.

Question: How does music add value to social platforms?

Levin: These platforms enable everyday fans to express their love for music with a wider audience than they’ve ever been able to before and it enables artists and songwriters an opportunity to connect directly with those fans in ways and reach they never could historically.

Question: How can a music license create a revenue stream for a digital platform and artists/songwriters? How has streaming changed the “performance royalty”?

Levin: Whether subscription or ad supported, digital platforms have a host of business model options to choose from when they want to build a service which includes music or with music at its core.  The leaps in both bandwidth and technology over the past decade have changed how fans interact with music; one doesn’t need to own music in the form of a CD or download because they can access it now whenever and wherever they want from a variety of different platforms.  A blanket license from BMI enables these platforms to stream any song in our repertoire and ensure the BMI songwriter is compensated for that performance.

Question: What is BMI doing to make sure songwriters are protected in this evolving landscape? What can songwriters do to promote/protect themselves?

Levin: We have a team dedicated to working with Digital businesses, from the largest ones everyone knows to smaller, emerging platforms you’ll be using in the future, many of whom we proactively engage and educate about our songwriter’s performing rights they’re using.  Songwriters should make sure they register their works with BMI so we can ensure the fees we collect from all of these new outlets get distributed to the songwriters whose works were performed on them.  They should also make sure their mechanical rights are being managed by their publisher or one of the outlets who administer those rights for self-published writers.


It’s clear that BMI is working hard to help artists get the payday they deserve when it comes to digital licensing. How do you feel about music licensing in the digital age? Comment below and share your thoughts!