What is the difference between ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, Music Reports?
By: George Howard
ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC are United States Performing Rights Organizations (PROs). Effectively, they all do the same thing. PROs issue blanket licenses to music broadcasters, such as television and radio stations, auditoriums, larger restaurants and clubs, hotels, or theme parks. Basically, they are issued to anyone who plays music in a public manner. By paying the blanket license fees to the PROs, these broadcasters are able to use whatever music they want without having to account to each individual songwriter. The blanket license fee’s amount is based on broadcast reach; a large commercial radio station pays a higher blanket license fee than a small bookstore, but both pay.
The PROs keep track of the music that is being used through playlists at radio stations, cue sheets on television, and by sampling, for other types of users—such as polling restaurants and bars to determine what music they are playing. They pay royalties to writers based on the number of times an affiliated songwriter’s music is used.
You affiliate with one (and only one) of the PROs so that they will be able to find you and send you performance royalty checks. The affiliation process is easy. There may be an inexpensive, one-time affiliation fee, but once you’re affiliated, there is no cost to register as many songs as you write at no further cost. Check out each PRO, choose one, and affiliate. They all do the same thing, as far as getting you paid goes, and neither is better than the other two, though their additional benefits and services vary.
Please note that PROs are not publishers. Registering your songs with them does not mean you have a publishing deal. PROs simply monitor the public use of copyrights and facilitate royalty payment for these uses.
Here is the info for the PROs:
One Lincoln Plaza
New York, NY 10023
320 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019-3790
55 Music Square East
Nashville, TN 37203