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Royalties for Public Performance of Your Music

Performance rights organizations like BMI, ASCAP and SESAC all perform a similar task but in slightly different ways. Essentially, they all perform the duty of collecting royalties for non-dramatic performances of intellectual property. In simpler terms, they collect the income from radio stations, TV stations, programming companies, Internet marketers and any other entity where music and related intellectual property is used. These royalties are then, in turn, paid to the various publishers and authors associated with a particular recording or performance.

The fundamental reason behind the birth of these organizations is the simple fact that individual artists and song writers can’t possibly devote the time, attention and research required to collect royalties from the plethora of companies that use their music, even though by law they are entitled to those royalties. Artists depend on these performance rights organizations to do the hunting and collecting for them—a small price to pay for a piece of a much, much bigger pie! There’s a saying, “50% of everything is a whole lot better than 100% of nothing!” Well, we don’t know exactly how much money these organizations charge for their services, but we can be certain it covers their time an energy (similar to how music publishers earn money for getting music played in movies, TV shows, or recorded by other artists, etc.). The moral of the story is that performance rights organizations are a necessary and helpful tool for musicians and publishers. The toughest decision is choosing which one you want to align yourself with.

The following links connect directly to the description pages of each organization. So click on the first of each set of links if you want to get right to the heart of the matter. These descriptions are interesting because they explain, in slightly greater detail, their distinguishing differences. After reading the description pages, please visit the root page of each organization to find on-line information about joining as well as a ton of other terrific resources. Compare and make a decision on which one best suits you. If you don’t, you can practically assure yourself of never being paid for airplay—OOPS!

USA

  • ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) Click here for the ASCAP root page.
  • BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.) Click here for the BMI root page.
  • SESAC Click here for the SESAC root page.

Canada

  • SOCAN (Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada) Click here for the SOCAN root page.

Note: If you are looking for information on how to start your own publishing company, inquire on each site or call each company on how to obtain membership as a publisher. Becoming a publisher is not as nearly as difficult as performing the duties of a publishing company since a publisher’s principal task is exposing compositions and recordings to as many profitable opportunities as possible.


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