What’s good people, today we will be addressing the topic of Performing Rights Organizations aka PROs and why as an independent artist it is to your benefit to be a member of one.First we will define what a Performance Rights Organization is. A PRO is an organization that collects money for the song writers and publishers whom have memberships with them. There are 3 major PROs (ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC). Basically these organizations keep track of and collect fees from TV/Film, radio, stage plays, restaurants, live performances or any other entity which uses the copy written material that is registered with them by their members.
ASCAP aka American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers is a not for profit organization and is the only American PRO that was created and operated by composers, writers and music publishers. Their membership is over 500,000 strong. You can have a writer’s membership, publisher’s membership or both with ASCAP but in order to collect both the writer’s and publisher’s mechanical royalty you must have both.
BMI aka Broadcast Music, Inc. is also a non-profit but, was founded by radio executives. BMI has over 650,000 members but the notable difference between them and ASCAP deals with the fact that you can join BMI as a writer for free and you do not need a publishing company in order to collect your publisher’s share of the royalties.
SESAC with a membership of about 30,000 strong, is the only PRO that is invite only, so in other words not everyone can join SESAC you have to be invited to join and if you are, then it’s free to be a member.
Before you even ask, I’m not here to advocate which PRO you should join as they all basically do the same things with the only exception being their policies for becoming a member, pay schedules and how they handle disputes. You’ll have to decide for yourself which organization best suits your needs in those regards and go from there.
The most important thing to glean out of this information is the necessity to join a PRO because essentially, you’re missing out on money if you don’t. It’s common for indie artists to think that they don’t need to join a PRO because they are not signed to a major record deal and, you couldn’t be further from the truth. Just because your song might not be playing in regular rotation on a major radio station doesn’t mean you can’t receive royalties. If your song is played on college radio or even internet radio the PROs collect from those organizations as well. If your song was used even in a local commercial or someone else performed your music live, that gives you the right to collect mechanical royalties and as an indie artist because there is no middle man, that usually means that so long as you have ownership of the publishing, you will receive money. If your song blows up that just means even more money for you and then you will have a bargaining chip to use in the event that you choose to sell off a percentage of your publishing to a major record label in exchange for an advance or other type of business arrangement.
No matter how big or small of an artist you may be, having ownership of your music will secure your ability to profit from it. Maseed Productions will sell exclusive rights to our music at very reasonable prices which means you own it and you call the shots on how it will be published. Just something to consider as you embark upon your journey to stardom.