The Guide To PRO's



Image: Pexel - Artem Beliaikin

If you're an artist that is looking to perform, or a songwriter that is looking to publish their original work, you might be wondering, "How do artists make money on platforms like Spotify or over the radio on air?"

What does a PRO do?

Performing Rights Organizations (PRO) help songwriters get their work published and paid by collecting the owners performance royalties. If you're a music composer or songwriter, you can collect performance royalties any time your music is streamed, broadcast, aired on radio, or performance, those performance royalties are paid to Performing Rights Organizations, where then the Performing Rights Organization pays you the money from their distributors.

Performing Rights Organizations (PRO) cannot collect mechanical royalties for the reproduction of your original works, sync fees, and digital performance royalties. 

If you are looking to collect royalties from digital performance that is associated with the master of your recording, money is paid out by a company called Sound Exchange. 



Image: Sound Exchange

Sound Exchange (https://www.soundexchange.com/) collects and distributes royalties for the artist and copyright owner when the music content is played on a non-interactive digital source. This allows Sound Exchange to administer a statutory license, granting services to stream the artists music while paying a fixed rate for each play.

Getting paid by your chosen PRO, all publishing royalties that are generated from the usage of your music and is divided between you and your publisher. 50% is paid to the songwriter, while the remaining other half of the 50% is paid to the publisher. If you are however both a songwriter and a publishers, you get to keep 100% of your earned royalties. 

What Performing Rights Organization's (PRO) are there?

If you are located within the United States, there are four PRO's called ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, and GMI. If you are located within Canada, there is one PRO available to you called SOCAN.

Image: ASCAP

ASCAP (https://www.ascap.com)

The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers is an performance-rights organization that protect copyrights by monitoring public performances from broadcast or live performances. ASCAP is used by artists such as Justin Timerlake, Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande, and Beyonce.


Image: ASCAP

To join ASCAP, you must be 18 years of age or older, and you need to provide your legal name, address, email address, and Social Security number. You can join as a songwriter, a publisher, or both, but each requires a $50 application fee.


Image: BMI

BMI (https://www.bmi.com)

Broadcast Media Inc. (BMI) is a PRO that supports songwriters, music composers, and publishers. Just like ASCAP, BMI handels the collection of musical royalties and offers licensing services to copyright owners. Famous artists that are known to use BMI services are Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Mariah Carey, Keith Urban, and Kanye West.


Image: BMI

To join BMI as a songwriter, you will need a valid email address. All applicants under 18 years of age must provide a custodial trust bank account that has been established at a U.S. bank. You will be asked to sign a 2-year agreement. Joining as a songwriter with BMI is free at no additional cost.

If you are looking to join BMI as a publisher, you must have proposed names for your company, and a credit card issued by a U.S. bank. You will be needing to make a payment of a one-time processing fee for $150. A valid email address is also required to receive and electronically sign the affiliation agreement and tax form. You will be asked to sign a 5-year agreement.


Image: SESAC

SESAC (https://www.sesac.com)

Society of European Stage Authors and Composers (SESAC) is a performance rights organization in the United States, and ranks the second oldest PRO. With over 30,000 affiliates famous artists are known to use SESAC are artists Adele, Bob Dylan, and Neil Diamond.


Image: SESAC

In order to join SESAC, you must be invited to join. Doing so, you have to meet with a representative there and must be referred to their creative staff in order to be considered in joining their service.


Image: Global Music Rights

Global Music Rights (https://globalmusicrights.com)

Global Music Rights is another PRO that handles performing rights licensing. They are are able to provide resources when it comes to monitoring international royalty collection and administration. Artists that are known to use Global Music Rights are artists Bruno Mars, Billy Idol, Jared Leto, Drake, Slash, Prince, Pharrell Williams, Jon Bon Jovi, and John Mayer.


Image: Global Music Rights

Similar to SESAC, to join Global Music Rights, you have to be invited.


Image: SOCAN

SOCAN (http://www.socan.com)

Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers (SOCAN) of Canada is a Canadian performance rights organization that represents the performing rights to over 135,000 songwriters, music composers, and publishers. 


Image: SOCAN

To join SOCAN as a songwriter, you must be a songwriter, music composer, or lyricist, and
have created a musical work or part of a musical work that has been published by a music publisher, recorded, or performed in a public forum (i.e. radio, television, film, live performance.) Joining SOCAN as a music talent is free.

To join SOCAN as a publisher, it is required that you own at least five copyright musical works that has been written or co-written by a writer member of SOCAN or by a Canadian resident. You must also be entitled by contract to receive the publisher's share of the performance credits of at least five copyright protected musical works that were written or co-written by a writer member of SOCAN or by a Canadian. Joining SOCAN as a publisher, there is a one-time membership processing fee of $50 (plus applicable taxes).

What if I can't join any of these Performing Rights Organizations?

If you are not located within the U.S. or Canada, we'd recommend that you research for any available opportunities, musical organizations, or licensing companies that are located within your county where you can join to collect royalties. 

Joining a PRO can sometimes cost money, but once you find the right one, you'll be all set. Collecting royalties isn't an option to get rich over night deal, music is an never ending process. A journey that you must keep pushing forward on to make it to a place where you finally feel comfortable at. Every musician, songwriter, and publisher deserves to make a royalty. "A world without music, life would B♭."