Performance rights organization Broadcast Music Inc., which collects and distributes licensing fees for songwriters, composers and music publishers, plans to open a creative office in Austin in early 2019.

The Thursday announcement from the Texas Music Office was made in partnership with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Austin entrepreneur Gary Keller. The Austin location will allow the company "to work directly with the talented songwriters, composers, publishers and emerging songwriters and artists in the thriving Austin music community," according to a news release.

The firm -- commonly known in the industry as BMI -- has a history dating to 1939 and offices in New York, Los Angeles, Nashville, Atlanta, Washington, London and Puerto Rico, BMI has long been one of the leaders in its field, along with organizations such as ASCAP and SESAC.

“This capital investment expansion represents a real commitment to continue Texas' rise as a music industry business center," Abbott said as part of the announcement.

BMI president and CEO Mike O'Neill noted that the firm has worked with the Texas music community for decades. "As their creative community has grown, we’ve grown along with them," he said in a written statement. "Having a permanent presence in Austin is the next logical step."

Keller, the co-founder of real estate company Keller Williams, was cited as "a key sponsor of BMI's Texas music initiatives." He has been a pivotal supporter of local music in recent years through his advocacy groups All ATX and the Austin Music Movement.

"Having a company like BMI with the support of Governor Abbott establishes a presence in our city that helps further our efforts to support local music and provide resources to the many great musicians who call Austin home," Keller said in a written statement.

The company is looking at locations downtown and on South Congress and plans to open by March 2019, in time for South by Southwest. BMI has had a significant presence at SXSW since its early years, presenting major showcases and industry parties. The company also has sponsored a stage at the Austin City Limits Music Festival for many years.

An executive will be hired to lead the office. The Austin exec will report to BMI creative vice president Jody Williams and assistant vice president Mason Hunter, both based in Nashville.

"BMI has a long track record of music industry community building in cities such as Nashville and Atlanta," Texas Music Office director Brendon Anthony said in a written statement. He added that the new office "represents a significant investment toward supporting Texas songwriters and their compositions."