We didn’t see it coming either! In one fell swoop, SESAC spanked its PRO siblings in the race toward digital streaming relevancy by scooping up mechanical licensing clearinghouse Harry Fox (HRA).
Thanks to its for-profit status (freeing it from Federal requirements faced by non-profit PROs ASCAP and BMI), SESAC’s ability to deal directly with NMPA’s board helped it snag HRA, making it the first PRO to… well, not just be a PRO. With Harry Fox’s mechanical licensing deals, SESAC can become a one-stop licensing shop.
Add to SESAC’s suicide squad Rumblefish, acquired last year to nab its sweet RADKey microlicensing system custom-built for YouTube’s content creators.
ASCAP and BMI have already asked the Justice Department to loosen their strings so they can dive into mechanicals. With 90% of the PRO market, it would help both PROs contend with SESAC’s dual-licensing future. But their massive size, typically a good thing for negotiating artists’ blanket royalty rates, has also burdened them with big data backlogs, hindering their ability to become truly nimble with the constant fluidity of developing music tech.
There’s also newbie GRM, still getting on its feet (crickets since the first of the year).
And out of the blue has come Kobalt, a brilliant digital-streaming wunderkind poised to be music royalties’ first Global PRO. Think micro-royalty velociraptor — its tenacious appetite for collecting on scraps of international digital performances is seriously staggering (more on Kobalt next month–thanks for the tip, Exploration!).
But both GRM and Kobalt are very-new, for-profit PROs, that are far far behind the rest of the PRO pack. For now.
So what do you think: has SESAC overextended itself with its aggressive acquisition portfolio this year, or is it currently playing the sharpest licensing game amongst the U.S. PROs?