Are you looking to enter the music industry? Here are a few tips…

A performing rights organization (PRO) is the entity that collects royalty payments on behalf of songwriters and publishers. These royalty payments are distributed among the copyright owners of a particular piece of music. Anytime you hear a song broadcast over land (AM / FM radio), the Internet, a restaurant, a TV show, virtually anywhere in public, these companies have to pay the PRO for the license to use that song. Once the PRO collects the license fee, the PRO pays the artist. The payment calculated from these collections is called a performance royalty. As an artist, signing up with a PRO should be one of the first steps in making music a career choice.

Let’s take a look at some of the different PROs out there. You might have looked at the credits of a song and somewhere in there you see the words “ASCAP”, “BMI” or “SESAC”. These are the top three – or industry professionals might say “the big three” – PROs in the United States. While each PRO performs essentially the same task, its membership fees, international operations, and payment structure may vary.

Honestly… one that you feel comfortable with. There really is no right or wrong choice. It’s about doing your research and deciding what’s best for you and your career. This is a big and long-term decision, so it’s highly encouraged that artists go to each PRO’s website and get a feel for what they’re doing and what separates them from the rest. Check out their FAQ section, chat with other artists who have signed up with each of them, and then make a decision based on what information suits you the most and what you want for your career.

Whichever one you choose, becoming a member of a PRO should be an exciting and productive step for any musician looking to advance their career. This is one of the first things people in the industry will notice when they see an artist or band they might want to work with. This gives the artist even more ownership over their creation and helps to have peace of mind knowing that their organization is striving to show that their hard work and efforts are paying off.

* Information according to the official ASCAP website

** Information according to the official BMI website

*** Information according to the official SESAC website

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Alice P. Darby