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Performance Rights Organizations

As a songwriter, performance royalties can be good source of publishing revenue. Before joining a performance rights organization you should have a basic understanding of:

What Performance Rights Organizations do.

What Performance Rights Organizations don’t do.

When the right time is to join a Performance Rights Organization.

Which Performance Rights Organization you should choose.

What Performance Rights Organizations Do:

Performance Rights Organizations, otherwise known as P.R.O.’s, are companies that track and collect royalties so that songwriters and publishers receive these royalties each time their song is performed publicly or broadcast.

Here is a list of what's considered Broadcast or Public Performance. If your song is being played on:

  • Radio
  • On a Commercial
  • On a Video Game
  • In a Movie
  • On a TV Show
  • On any Internet Services
  • If your song is Streaming such as Pandora, Spotify, etc.

Or if your song is preformed at a live venue. Even if you’re the one performing the song.

Songwriters can assume they are only owed a royalty if someone else is playing their song live. It’s important to note that as the copyright owner, you should receive a royalty every time you play your own music.

If Performance Rights Organizations align with what you’re doing as an independent artist they can also aid you in connecting you to other prominent channels in the music industry. Alongside of tracking your royalties, PRO’s hold workshops, showcases, conferences and provide education in how independent artists can collaborate.

What Performance Rights Organizations Don't Do:

Performance Rights Organizations do not track:

  • Mechanical Fees
  • Sampling Royalties
  • Synchronization Royalties
  • Sheet Music Royalties

When is it time for me to join a Performance Rights Organization?

You should consider joining a PRO even if your song isn’t available for sale. As mentioned previously, if YOU are playing your music publicly you can receive a royalty. For this reason, if you write your own music, you should sign up with a PRO to make sure you aren’t missing out on money.

Which Performance Rights Organization do I use?

Currently in the United States there are 3 PRO Organizations you can choose from. ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC. ASCAP and BMI is open to any songwriter joining while SESAC has a more selective process. You have to apply to be a member. Each PRO has different specifications, requirements, administrative fees, renewal times and strengths. After deciding which PRO you'd like to affiliate with, you enter into a contract with that PRO.

Deciding on which PRO to affiliate with is a personal choice. The best way to make this decision is to visit each PRO's website or call and speak to a representative of the company. Make a list of pros and cons of each in order to see which PRO fits your needs. Sometimes the connection with your representative may help you come to a conclusion.

For more information on how each company approaches payments with their artists, visit their royalty information page below.

If you’d like to track your sales internationally there are Distribution Companies that work with ASCAP, SESAC and BMI to do so. There are many other distribution companies out there, and we can’t claim one to be better than the others, however these are the ones we most frequently hear about from our artists.