The Broadcast Music Incorporated reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Apr-2004
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Broadcast Music Incorporated

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Broadcast Music Incorporated or BMI is an organization, known as a collecting society that protects intellectual property in the communications business, especially radio. It was founded by the broadcasters as a rival to ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, which was boycotting radio at the time in 1944.

Both BMI and ASCAP, as well as other organizations like SESAC monitor performances of the music to which they control the rights and collect and distribute royalties.

BMI has historically been more open to composers of rock and roll, jazz, folk music, blues, and country music who sing and play their own music, while ASCAP has been more identified with non-performing professional songwriters from Hollywood, Broadway and Tin Pan Alley.

The ASCAP recording ban and the establishment of BMI are markers of the beginning of the revolution in music that led to turning out the established respectable music of the 1930s and 1940s and its replacement by the popular forms that began to dominate music in the late 1940s and on into the 1950s and 1960s. Broadcasters preferred playing tunes for which they already controlled the performing rights and thus paying themselves and not ASCAP.

Quotation

"I'm a lover not a fighter, I'm a BMI songwriter" -- Ray Stevens, "PFC Rhythm and Blues Jones"