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BMI vs ASCAP vs SESAC: What PROs Do?

February 10, 2023 - Dj Life

A Performance Right Organization (PRO) is a non-profit organization that represents the rights of songwriters, composers and music publishers by collecting and distributing royalties for the public performance of their copyrighted works. These organizations are responsible for monitoring public performances of music, including those on radio, television, live venues and streaming platforms, and then distributing the collected royalties to the appropriate copyright holders.

There are three main PROs in the United States: ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. Each of these organizations has its own unique requirements and processes for becoming a member and registering your copyrighted works.

ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, was founded in 1914 and is the oldest and largest of the PROs. Membership is open to any songwriter, composer or music publisher, and registration of works is done online through the ASCAP website. Once a work is registered, ASCAP will monitor and collect royalties for any public performances of that work.

BMI, the Broadcast Music Inc., was founded in 1939 and is the second largest PRO in the United States. Like ASCAP, membership is open to any songwriter, composer or music publisher, and registration of works can be done online through the BMI website. BMI also offers an affiliation program for independent musicians who are not yet ready to become full members.

SESAC, the Society of European Stage Authors and Composers, was founded in 1930 and is the smallest of the three PROs. Unlike ASCAP and BMI, SESAC operates on an invitation-only basis and only represents a select group of songwriters, composers and music publishers.

To become a member of a PRO, you will need to provide proof of your identity and proof of your copyright ownership. This can include copies of your songs, album liner notes, or any other documentation that shows you are the creator of the work.

Once you are a member, you will need to register your copyrighted works with the PRO. This can be done online through the PRO’s website, or by mail. The PRO will then monitor public performances of your music and collect royalties on your behalf. You will receive regular payments from the PRO, which will include the royalties collected from public performances of your music.

It’s important to note that you can only be a member of one PRO at a time, and you can only register your copyrighted works with one PRO. Therefore, it’s important to carefully research and compare the different PROs to determine which one is the best fit for you and your music.

In summary, a Performance Right Organization (PRO) is a non-profit organization that represents the rights of songwriters, composers and music publishers by collecting and distributing royalties for the public performance of their copyrighted works. There are three main PROs in the United States: ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. Each of these organizations has its own unique requirements and processes for becoming a member and registering your copyrighted works. To become a member you will need to provide proof of your identity and proof of your copyright ownership and then you can register your copyrighted works with the PRO. Remember that you can only be a member of one PRO at a time, and you can only register your copyrighted works with one PRO, so it’s important to carefully research and compare the different PROs to determine which one is the best fit for you and your music.




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