Performing Rights Organizations

December 26, 2006 · Print This Article

If you’re a songwriter and your songs are being played on the radio or internet, there may be income waiting for you.

Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) collect royalty payments on behalf of publishers and songwriters for public performances of their songs. Here’s how PROs work.

If you’re a songwriter, you have the exclusive right to publicly perform your song under Section 106 of the Copyright Act. However, it’s virtually impossible to know when your songs are being played and by whom. PROs were set up to remedy this problem. Songwriters (and publishers) sign up with a PRO, giving the PRO authority to collect public performance royalties on behalf of the songwriter. It turn, the PROs have licenses all across the country (and even beyond) with radio stations, internet radio providers, shopping malls, restaurants and anyone else who plays music in their establishment. The PROs collect money on behalf of the songwriter, take a small fee, and distribute the money to the songwriter.

The major PROs are ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. Each PRO provides lots of information on their websites about how to sign up and how they work.

Notice and Disclaimer: This posting is not legal advice and not intended as legal advice. It is intended only to provide non-specific legal information. This post does not cover all the issues related to the topic discussed. The specific facts that apply to you may make the outcome different than you anticipate. This posting is based on United States law. You should consult with an attorney familiar with the laws of your country. This posting does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Darin Leong. This posting is not a solicitation.


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