The final word on compensating composers (previous words here and here), in a letter to Artie Wayne from BMI Senior VP Phil Graham:
BMI writers have had available for many years the ability to receive payments on the day of the royalty distribution electronically, either through direct deposit with one’s bank, or through an industry leading initiative we call “The Card from BMI” … essentially an ATM card that draws money from an account into which BMI deposits royalties. The forms to set up these kinds of payment facilities are available on bmi.com and thousands of writers have already taken advantage of these methods. However, if a writer does want a check we will make payment in that form if requested through one of our Writer/ Publisher offices for amounts over $2.
As part of BMI’s “Green initiative” two years ago, we made a decision to mail out royalty checks only once a year for writers who earned $250 or less. It appears that the check you recently received was our annual royalty payment. We send out thousands of these annual checks for very small amounts … some of them as small as $2 to any writer who has earnings from BMI the prior year. Let me emphasize that this annual check in no way prevents any writer from receiving their royalties each quarter as outlined above. It has saved hundreds of thousands of dollars each year that reduces our overhead and increases the overall distribution. It is one of the efficiency measures BMI has put into place to bring our overhead rate down to approximately 12% … among the lowest of any copyright organization in the world.
I trust we can now consider this matter closed.