Are the US Royalty companies to blame for where many venues and US Internet radio has gone? In a nutshell, no. They are the enforcers of the laws that are in place and through this are a representation for artists in the music industry. As enforcers, they are often appreciated by some of the artists and viewed as the bane of the music world by many third parties that work with the artist.
It is easy to point the finger of venues closing and Internet radio stations closing on the royalty companies. This is even more the case when people see that the royalty companies are non-profit corporations that are doing the work of crippling these two areas of the industry. The truth in this is that the royalty companies are in the US to do the dirty work imposed by the Copyright Royalty Board (Panel). This small collective of US judges work to ensure that royalties are collected legally by the U.S. Copyright Office of the Library Of Congress. The Copyright Royalty Board's judges are appointed and empowered as a governing body by the Librarian Of Congress who is in turn appointed jointly by the US President and US Senate. Much like the US Federal Reserve, the royalty company of the United States is governed by the US Federal Government, which uses corporate entities to do some of the dirty work for them.
The laws that are used are usually drafted by a committee that is then voted by the US Senate. These laws are then defined by the Copyright Royalty Board. In some cases they can bring in the Copyright Royalty Board to deal with appeals on passed laws. In very rare cases an issue can be presented to the US Senate in hopes they will pass an amendment to alter the passed laws, but in almost all situations like this they defer judgement to the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel to resolve the issue that was presented.
As you can see, the 4 US Royalty companies are only the muscle in ensuring that the laws are enforced. As such, they are also the ones that are viewed as the enemy of parts of the music industry. The Copyright Royalty Board may be more involved in policies, but they too are unfairly viewed as the enemy in situations where members of the music industry are getting strong armed by the royalty laws. The truth in this is that the US Senate when all is said and done hold all the cards. As the lawmakers they are the ones that draw the lines in the sand that these other government entities are forced to abide by. Other parts of this process may further define these rules, but it is the part of the Government meant to represent the people (Congress) that has final say in everything.
Some might ask how all of this matters in Royalty issues. The increases in royalties and the stiffer regulations that all forms of radio stations, venues, and dance clubs are feeling originate from the Senate. With people viewing the Royalty companies as the enemy is in a sense killing the messenger for laws they didn't make.
In as law enforcement is based on trained individuals enforcing civil and criminal laws with the top of their chain being law makers. The copyright and royalty structure is in most ways structured the same. The four royalty companies in the US have respective boards that are composed of some of the best lawyers in the field of copyright laws. The laws they enforce are defined like other laws by judges (Copyright Royalty Board), and are created by a part of Congress. Other laws that are viewed as unfair we are often presented to fight these laws in the US court system or to take the fight to Congress to make changes. This is where the ultimate checks and balances is meant to be the people that feel they are wronged by the laws.
The appeal process for many of the laws imposed in Internet radio for 2016 and other laws imposed since 2013 have seen resolution. These results haven't been in favor of the radio stations, the venues, or the dance clubs. The next step is Senate, and this is where the supporters of these entities need to be involved if there will ever be change that is viewed fair by all parties.