Business News Deals Labels & Publishers Media

Wixen deal allows Neil Young et al back onto the BBC’s airwaves

By | Published on Tuesday 28 July 2015

Neil Young

Neil Young may be busy trying to stop you from listening to his music anywhere that is concurrently legal and convenient, but you will be able to hear his oeuvre on BBC radio once again. Programmer preferences depending, of course.

As previously reported, it emerged earlier this month that songs by Young, Journey, The Doors and Bonnie Raitt were being banned from the BBC airwaves because of an upgrade to the Corporation’s iPlayer Radio app, which now allows users to download programmes to their smartphones for offline listening.

As all fans of music copyright technicalities quickly noted, that would require the making of a ‘mechanical copy’ of the programme and all the music contained within, in addition to the ‘communication to the public’ every radio broadcast involves. Which is a very relevant point when it comes to song licensing, because the music publishing sector in the UK appoints different collecting societies for each set of rights – MCPS controlling mechanicals, and PRS performing rights (which include communication to the public).

Now, in theory that’s not a problem, because the red blob that is PRS For Music represents both MCPS and PRS rights, but not all publishers are members of both societies. Namely, reps for Young, Journey, The Doors and Raitt are not allied with MCPS, seemingly because the artists don’t want to opt in to the society’s blanket licence for TV sync, just in case that results in their music soundtracking some tedious report on ‘The One Show’.

But as a side effect, it meant BBC Radio – whose shows automatically pass through to the iPlayer Radio app – couldn’t play the four acts’ songs, on the off chance that it then facilitated some mechanical copies without licence. And so the ban began.

Worry not though, because a deal has been done – at least for the songs of Young, Journey and The Doors – via their publisher, a wing of Wixen Music, with MCPS somehow involved too. So, songs from all three can return to the BBC airwaves, and then slip through into the iPlayer Radio app for offline listening without any copyright problems whatsoever.

Said the Beeb in a statement yesterday: “The BBC has been able to find a licensing solution by working together with the music publisher Wixen Music UK and with the MCPS. Works composed by The Doors, Journey and Neil Young are now mechanically licensed under an arrangement via MCPS and are available for use on BBC Radio and for the consequent download on BBC Radio iPlayer. The licensing solution enables us to include the works on both BBC radio and the BBC’s radio catch-up services”.

So, everything is well once again. Until the Tories push the BBC into the North Sea, then all of this will kind of be redundant. Though any producers of mediocre ‘One Show’ reports reading this, please note: this does not – repeat, does not – mean The Doors, Journey and Neil Young are now covered by the MCPS TV sync blanket licence, because they’re not. So don’t go using their stuff, OK? In fact, can we not just push ‘The One Show’ into the North Sea? Then that won’t happen by mistake.

READ MORE ABOUT: | | | | | | | |