A Performance Rights Organization, also known as a PRO, is an organization such as BMI, ASCAP, or SESAC that collects money songwriters and publishers are owed for the public performance of songs. These organizations collect performance royalties, which is divided into songwriting and publishing. Revenue from songwriting and publishing is owed to artists when their music is played on the radio, used in movies or TV shows, played at concerts, used as elevator music, and many more uses. Want more tips for independent artists? Read all of our artist resources.
What are the types of music royalties?
There are six types of music royalties—streaming royalties, neighboring rights and royalties, digital performance royalties, sync licensing fees, public performance royalties, and mechanical royalties. No royalties except streaming royalties are collected by your distributor and you need a Performance Rights Organization to collect your performance royalties.
How are performance royalties collected?
Radio stations and broadcasters get a blanket license from their local PRO allowing them to play, or publicly perform, nearly every song in the world. Then, the radio station and broadcaster reports what songs they play to the performance rights organizations so that songwriters get paid. When touring artists perform live, they report their setlists to venues so that the venue can forward the setlist to the PRO and the organization can then ensure the songwriters get paid. There are also public performance royalties from streaming. They are oftentimes linked to the mechanical royalties that streaming services pay out, which are amassed into a royalty pool. Then, the Copyright Royalty Board, or the CRB, pays out songwriters and publishers.
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