According to a report by Ben Sisario in The New York Times, SESAC, one of the three performing rights societies operating in the U.S.A., has agreed to buy the Harry Fox Agency (HFA), which is the pre-eminent American collecting agency for mechanical rights. According to Sisario, the deal would “give SESAC control of the valuable data that is generated from digital outlets like Apple, Spotify and Pandora, giving it an advantage over ASCAP and BMI, its much bigger rivals in the American performing-rights business.” Ed Christman’s article in Billboard about the planned purchase puts the price tag for the purchase at $35 million and claimed that other bidders included BMI and SOCAN, the Canadian performing rights society.
While several of the music creators we have profiled on NewMusicBox—such as Vijay Iyer and members of the Jazz Composers Collective (e.g. Ben Allison and Ted Nash)—are members of SESAC, the overwhelming majority of new music composers belong to either ASCAP or BMI. On its website, SESAC describes itself as representing “diversified repertory that includes genres including Jazz, Pop, Adult Contemporary, Urban, Rock, Americana, Contemporary Christian, Latin, Country, Gospel, Dance, Classical and New Age.” But unlike ASCAP and BMI, SESAC does not host an annual young composer competition and also does not have a specific department for new long-form score-based music, which at ASCAP is called “concert music” and at BMI is called “classical music.” So it will be very interesting to see how this development affects new music creators and interpreters.