A new music licensing agreement has been reached between the music and meeting industries, simplifying the reporting process and reducing costs for meeting organizers.

Several meeting industry organizations--Meeting Professionals International (MPI), the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), the Professional Conference Management Association (PCMA), and the Religious Conference Management Association (RCMA)--all collaborated in recent negotiations with music licenser Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI).

Retroactive to January 1, 1997, the new agreement halves the rate for live performances at meetings and conventions: Where live or recorded music is played, the cost will be five cents per attendee, with a cap not to exceed the event's total registration.

Those rates are set through the year 2000; after that there may be increases based on a Consumer Price Index (CPI) adjustment. The minimum rate for a licensing contract has been decreased from $175 to $100. In addition, the annual reporting and payment form has been simplified and fits on a postcard.

Planners will no longer have to worry about what music they can use and when they need additional licenses. Every licensee will receive a CD-ROM catalog listing all BMI-licensed music. The CD-ROM will be updated quarterly; for weekly updates planners can check BMI's Web site at http://bmi.com.

The new agreement with BMI is separate from the 1990 meeting industry agreement with the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). No negotiations are planned for a new ASCAP agreement.