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Breaking Into The Music Industry: Performance Rights Organizations

By Barry Chase

The owner of a copyright in a protected musical composition may use the work as (s)he wishes; conversely, (s)he may prevent others from using that work without authorization. Whenever a musical work (“song”) is being performed for commercial purposes, that owner should almost always expect to receive a royalty.

Making individual efforts to collect royalties, however, require hours of investigation and paperwork – tracking how many times the song has been played, determining whether it was performed on TV, in a film, on the radio or Internet, or calculating which percentage of the royalty goes to which owner (if the song has co-composers). This is where it makes sense to become a member of a Performance Rights Organization (“PRO”). The purpose of these organizations is to track the “public performance” of musical compositions (anything from elevator-music to radio play to live band concerts), collect license fees for copyright owners who are PRO members, and distribute royalties to their members.

The owner of a copyright in a protected musical composition may use the work as (s)he wishes; conversely, (s)he may prevent others from using that work without authorization. Whenever a musical work (“song”) is being performed for commercial purposes, that owner should almost always expect to receive a royalty.

Making individual efforts to collect royalties, however, require hours of investigation and paperwork – tracking how many times the song has been played, determining whether it was performed on TV, in a film, on the radio or Internet, or calculating which percentage of the royalty goes to which owner (if the song has co-composers). This is where it makes sense to become a member of a Performance Rights Organization (“PRO”). The purpose of these organizations is to track the “public performance” of musical compositions (anything from elevator-music to radio play to live band concerts), collect license fees for copyright owners who are PRO members, and distribute royalties to their members.

There are three (3) PROs in the United States: (1) the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) ($50 to join as a composer or publisher); (2) Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) (free to join for a composer but $150 to $250 for publishers); and (3) the

Source: http://www.entertainmentlawyermiami.com/blog/2013/11/breaking-into-the-music-industry-performance-rights-organizations-2.shtml

  

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