Universal Music Publishing Group has announced that it is following Sony/ATV’s lead in pulling its digital performance rights from ASCAP and BMI, in order to strike direct deals with services like Pandora. “With the consent decree constraints that apply to both ASCAP and BMI, in our view, it’s especially challenging for either society to achieve market rates in negotiations with digital services,” chairman Zach Horowitz tells Billboard. “In order to ensure that our songwriters are fairly compensated, we believe the best approach is for us to negotiate directly with these services.  For that reason we notified both ASCAP and BMI at the end of last year that we will be withdrawing our digital rights for controlled catalogs at the earliest opportunity.” Sony/ATV got a 25% bump in its Pandora rate by negotiating directly, and while UMPG will be hoping for similar growth, this isn’t good news for Pandora’s hopes of bringing its royalty costs down.

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