Paying Attention to PROs


I haven’t had the opportunity to talk with many of you about my perspectives on Performing Rights Organizations, the powers at be who facilitate performance royalties.

For those of you who have never received a royalty on your work, I’ll break the concept down into simple terms: When you perform, you have put your original work out in public. If it’s copyrighted and registered with a performing rights organization, the government says you deserve a royalty for your performance. Money. This works the same way for radio, which is also considered a “public performance”.

Performing rights organizations ask businesses to pay a fee to play music to the public. This is a “blanket license” fee. Basically, in order for musicians to get paid a royalty, the PROs have to charge someone, so they can payout what the government says is due to copyright holders (songwriters). Companies like Muzika provide some ways around this fee, making it easier for business without a stage to get legal.

Now, for the sake of learning, I’m going to leave this post right here. If you’re a songwriter who is trying to get paid for your music, the questions below will be a good exercise in “getting current” on changes happening in the music industry. If you’d like, email your responses to and we can talk more. If not, hopefully you’ve learned something new, already. Keep writing!

1. What are two ways performing rights organizations can find out which businesses have not paid their performance licensing fees?

2. How do performing rights organizations determine which songwriters get paid, and how much?

3. What would be the advantage of BMI, ASCAP, or SESAC enticing a popular artist to register with them, as opposed to another PRO?

4. What’s the process for “leaving” a PRO after registering?

5. Who is Global Music Rights, and why am I asking?

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