Have you ever wondered how songwriters get paid? As you produce music, this question might run in your head. You should know that once your creation plays on air or at a venue, you should receive compensation for it.
To ensure that happens, the US Department of Justice issued Consent Decrees, of which performing rights organizations like ASCAP and BMI follow in their operation.
Through this, performing rights organizations collect royalties. This is all to ensure songwriters get paid every time someone performs and plays their music.
Let’s look into what a performing rights organization is and how it can help you.
What is a Performing Rights Organization?
A Performing Rights Organization is an agency or collective. They help songwriters and publishers to get the right compensation. They ensure that songwriters and publishers get paid through performance royalties.
What are performance royalties? These are dues owed to songwriters or publishers when their music gets played on the radio or used on TV shows and commercials. Even live venues performances can also qualify for performance royalties.
With that in mind, radio stations, venues and TV networks pay the performance royalties to Performing Rights Organizations. These organizations will distribute the money to affiliated songwriters and publishers.
PROs: Who Are They?
For each area, there are performing rights organizations established to ensure. There are a good number of them within the US, and there are also others in various countries like Canada.
Here are some of the PROs that you can look into.
Also called the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, ASCAP is an organization of more than 700,000 members. These include songwriters, composers, and music publishers hailing from different genres of music.
They also licensed about 11.5 million songs and scores. ASCAP also happens to be the first PRO in the US, founded on February 13, 1914. Since then, they continue to aid songwriters and publishers.
Also known as Broadcast Music, Inc. BMI is also another US-based organization aiming to help and protect songwriters and music publishers. They amount to about 900,000 members, noted as one of the largest music rights organizations in the US.
Founded in 1939, BMI continues with its advocacy in ensuring songwriters get the proper compensation for their work.
Known as the Society of European Stage Authors and Composers. SESAC came into foundation on February 1931. This was America’s second PRO. It also has a repertory consisting of works published by European firms.
It has 30,000 affiliates with 400,000 songs licensed for public performance.
Also called the Society of Composers, Authors, and Music Publishers of Canada, SOCAN is a Canadian performing rights organization and known to be the largest in the area. With 150,000 direct members, one can argue that they are one of the biggest PROs.
It also has about 33 million compositions licensed in its huge database. Making it also one of the biggest compared to the databases and repertoires in other PROs.
How to Join?
Joining a PRO depends on which group you plan to affiliate with. Each one has its own set of requirements for you to join in and ways for you to pass your application.
SESAC, for one, runs on an invitation-only basis. The only way you can get to become part of their membership is when someone else sends you an invite.
There is also online membership when you look at the other PROs we have listed. You can sign up online for ASCAP, BMI, and SOCAN.
ASCAP has its own set of requirements such as your legal name, mailing address, and nature of business. It also comes with an application fee depending on what you are applying for.
For Writers or Publishers, there is a $50 application fee. If you apply for both, it runs at $100.
SOCAN has an online application available as well, granting you an easier time joining.
The Benefits of Joining a PRO
There are various benefits that you can gain in being a member and affiliate to a PRO. With some providing specifics, there are also general benefits that you can gain overall. It could prove useful as you prepare to top up with tips for your marketing and promotion.
Let us look at what these benefits are.
The most direct form of benefit that you will get from being an affiliate of a PRO is in the form of performing royalties that you receive. Each PRO has a detailed process in determining royalties. This information may come in detail when you check them as one of their members.
But the simpler rundown is that the moment your song gets played in a venue or on air, those who used it will pay the PRO. As for the PRO, they release royalty payments to artists on a scheduled basis.
Benefits and Discounts
ASCAP provides benefits on creation tools and education. They also include travel expenses and merchandising among their benefits that you can gain from.
SOCAN also provides financial benefits to provide songwriters a financial advantage. As for certain locations, they also provide accommodations for members when they venture to New York or Paris.
Another benefit that PROs would provide as well is in the form of insurance. This can be home insurance, auto insurance, or health insurance. The idea of ensuring songwriters and publishers have the proper care and accountability is a blessing in itself.
Join a Performing Rights Organization Today!
Music is a way of life for songwriters that their hard work deserves proper compensation. Being part of a performing rights organization ensures that they get the right compensation. If you are a songwriter or publisher, consider joining any of the PROs today as you will get more than just payment.
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