Performance Rights Organizations

What are Performance Right Organizations?

Performance Rights Organizations (“PROs”) negotiate licenses for the public performance of musical compositions, monitor usage of each musical composition by licensees, and collect and distribute income generated under such licenses.  PROs do not take ownership of the musical works they license; they merely administer the public performance rights and royalties on behalf of music publishers and songwriters.

BMI, ASCAP and SESAC are three different performing rights societies that most bands or individual artists will need to take advantage of. These companies act as representatives for the publishers and the songwriters.  Basically they are the watchdogs of the music industry.  They will keep an eye on all of the different music venues to know when and where your song is being played and will ensure that you are getting paid for it.  They will cover pretty much any area as well as everything from radio to malls, elevators, concerts, restaurants, studios, plays, movies, and the list goes on.

Almost anywhere your song is being played; one of these three companies will have a hand in getting you the money for it.  The idea behind these companies is that no artist can keep track of their song all over the world, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t get paid for it.  Thus these companies will not only keep tabs and issue license and permission to play different songs, but they will also negotiate fees and prices for the use of different songs and catalogs.

   To be a songwriter is a powerful thing. Once you write a song and fix it in a tangible medium, you become the proud owner of a musical work copyright. Your shiny new copyright comes with a set of powerful exclusive rights. These rights, which can be found in § 106 of the Copyright Act, consist of the following:

(1) the right to reproduce the work;

(2) the right to prepare derivative works;

(3) the right to distribute copies of the work;

(4) the right to publicly display the work;

(5) the right to publicly perform the work; and

(6) in the case of sound recordings, the right to publicly perform the work via digital audio transmission.


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