Royalty Payments – Monitoring and Collection


A few threads have developed regarding the PROs (Performing Rights Organizations), royalty payments, monitoring, cue sheets, etc. I am going to group them here for further discussion.

176 Replies to “Royalty Payments – Monitoring and Collection”

  1. Registering with Soundexchange:

    As part of the registration process it asks me to upload a copy of a “voided check”. I’m assuming that’s American terminology for something that I would know by another name. What is a “voided check”?

  2. Hi Guys,

    I don’t know where to post this, so I will put it here and perhaps one of you might have some advice….thanks in advance!

    I have my own catalog of music that has been distributed to more than a few libraries.
    Recently, I started receiving ‘compulsory license requests’ from on behalf of other companies (such as Apple/iTunes, and Microsoft/Zune) seeking to use my music as part of their ‘music service’.

    I assume this involves cheap downloads, which of course is bothering me. The music I write is mostly for corporate videos, etc…..and is licensed for good rates in the libraries….I can’t see how a casual listener might have a use for it. But to pay $1.29 for a song that they can discreetly use in a corporate video? I think most people would do that over paying $$$ for the license.

    Any ideas on what I should do?

    Thanks for the help,


    1. Hi John,
      Although I can understand your concern, I wonder how many companies would be willing to take a chance like that. It’s not only the money that they will loose if you find out they’re using your song without a proper license, but their reputation would be on the line as well.

      However, if it’s only used within their corporate structure (not online), I can see how it would be difficult to catch it.

  3. Hi,

    I have a question regarding PRO’s. I am a UK citizen, and am receiving a fair portion of my placements through US libraries. I am a PRS member, although I have been told that it might be a good longer-term idea to join ASCAP or BMI and simply have my US income and business collected directly by them – avoiding the need for delays having it reach PRS and then PRS paying it.

    Does anyone have any advice or feedback or suggestions? I’d be most grateful.

    Fantastic forum Art, thanks for your time.


      1. Hi Art,

        I found the article quite enlightening – however in the comments section – there was a great deal of arguing – with no-one really seeming to favour one PRO over another.

        If you are based outside of the US and registered with your country’s PRO, would you say that there isn’t much point in registering with a US-based PRO?

        Thanks again!

        1. I think Mark Northam wrote that article and I believe he has registered with foreign PROs. I haven’t done it so I don’t really know.

  4. I can’t seem to get a clear answer on this, especially from BMI (horrendously slow on getting back via email, and futile to call them when all I get is an intern). I have all my songs registered with BMI, but should I register all my alternate mixes, ie, 30/60 second versions, no melody etc. as separate entities? I’ve been told I didn’t have to, but am wondering now. If not, then my work number for each full version song goes with all the alternates??

    Thanks for any help.

    1. Register them under “alternate titles” under the original title of the cue. Don’t register them under separate entities, that just creates undo confusion, and confusion costs money.

      1. Hi oontz,

        Thanks for the input. I can see doing it this way in the future, but there doesn’t seem to be a way to do this with the past registrations!! For those, is it ok with just the main version having the BMI number?

        1. Mr. Ross,

          You should be OK if you name the track TRACKTITLE (30 second mix).AIFF with the TRACKTITLE being the title you originally registered with BMI.

          Keep an eye out if BMI cannot reconcile the TRACKTITLE (30 second mix) as opposed to the TRACKTITLE in their system. If the supervisor just lists TRACKTITLE on the cuesheet, then you’re absolutely in the clear.

          I wouldn’t worry about it too much, but in the future register the cut downs as alternate titles..I know you know to do that anyway..

          As for BMI…try to attend some tv/film music conferences in LA, NY or Chicago. There will be a BMI artist rep there. Get their business card and let them know you’re serious about TV music. Then if you ever have a problem in the future you can call/email them and get it fixed.

          Believe me, if you’re doing more than “part time” business in TV music, you’re going to need a BMI rep’s phone number on speed dial. There’s always missing money, missing cuesheets, missing titles etc..

          Hope that helps

  5. Question about PRO’s…isnt a registered artist supposed to be listed when doing an artist search on the PRO’s page…
    Im asking because I dont show on BMI’s page when doing search even though im registered

    1. The Supervisors you submit to only work on a select number of shows. At the end of the season you can ask the Music Supervisor/Coordinator for the “cue sheets” which are Excel spreadsheets detailing the cues that are used on a show in any given episode of a specific season.

      If you’re working with a “middleman” library, buy a subscription to Tunesat. If you’re working with a “PMA” library, they will probably have detailed records of each cue used, though it may be hard to get someone at the library to dig up that info…

  6. Not sure if this is the right place to post this, but I was wondering if anyone here knows how good PRO royalties are for Discovery Channel and Animal Planet?

    1. On the grand scale they’re not big at all, however if you get a theme song or a cue/cues that is/are used in every single episode of a series, that can add up to some respectable dollar amounts.

      Discovery channel has a large international presence, but being able to collect those monies is very difficult.

      Hope that helps..

      1. Thanks, Oontz Oontz. I appreciate any info I can get. That does help.
        These aren’t theme placements. Are you talking pennies? I hope not… I’m just curious if anyone has an exact $ amount from say a regular :30 background placement.

        1. Hi Blind,

          I only had cue one show up on Discovery Health 4th Q 2009. 01:40 paid $2.15. I would hope the regular Discovery channel would pay more. Some Animal Planets showed up on my Tunesat account for this quarter but will not know those numbers for a couple of more statements.

        2. Hey Blind,

          I’m afraid to say yes, it will most likely be a matter of a couple of dollars. You can probably find more money by looking under your couch cushions 🙁

          But thats ok, Discovery is actually a difficult network to get placed on, since they have their own library they regularly turn to..

          The big money ASCAP/BMI/SESAC payout networks are actually easier to get on, anything VIACOM related will get you some nice monies.

          If you’re going through middlemen libraries (Jinglepunks, Audiosocket etc..), let them know you’re interested in VIACOM placements and they’ll advise accordingly as to what kind of cues to write…

          Keep workin’ at it and you can have some full time income…

          1. When you say VIACOM, I presume you mean all their networks? They own a ton of cable channels:
            Nickelodeon, MTV, VH1, BET, CMT, Spike, Comedy Central. Not to mention CBS!
            That’s a pretty wide swath of genres and styles, for example the cartoons on Nick use vastly different music to police chase videos on Spike, VH1 reality shows, or CBS shows.

            1. Exactly, the V probably pays somewhere between $70 – $80 million dollars a year in PRO license fees. Someone should look this up in the Viacom quarterly reports to get an exact number.

              A wide range of styles is good, that means composers of many genres can get placements at the same time without competing with each other.

              Some of my buddies do the following:

              They might work on a Viacom show like “Parental Control” on MTV which uses alot of urban/rock tension music. They go out and find a guy who does alot of cartoon work for the Nick shows, then they take a week to write in each-others genres. Then they submit 10 – 20 cues to eachother to put on their shows. That way, the urban/rock writer gets some Nick exposure, and the Nick writer gets some MTV exposure.

              There are TONS of ways to make money.

              1. hey that’s pretty clever !!
                I have a fair amount of tracks being broadcast on MTV ( Parental Control) uses my cues ALL the time and the back end is decent

                I obviously have other placements with Fox, Fox Sports, Speed Channel, ABC, BBC Itv etc but the Viacom channels do add up to decent money

                I wonder if MTV being sued a few years back ( they lost btw..) served as a lesson in cue sheet reporting and accounting for them

          1. I was hoping for at least a little better than that… Oh, well. Thanks a lot for the info. Much appreciated.
            Since you guys seem to know $/min, do you know some of the Viacom channel numbers? I know it varies widely, but still….

            1. Sure, a 45 second instrumental cue on one of the heavily played MTV shows will make you about $400 for your publishers share, and another $400 for your writers share. They might play the episode 7 times in primetime, 12 times in the afternoon etc…so all of those placements add up nicely..

  7. Gael
    Thanks for your help this is definitely clarifying things up a bit. But I must tell you that you are right I should get no more Royalty compensation for any of those other uses according to my contract (probably the worst in the world,negotiations? what negotiations?) HOWEVER, the foreign PROs WILL be collecting those royalties.
    So I guess my question is How do I make sure these royalties (from downloads) are registered and distributed to Ascap, then to Yours Truly?

    This just in: Ascap confirmed circulating the cue sheet to E.U territories. I am still waiting to hear back from PRS in the UK to get an answer on the downloads situation.

  8. I am 100% sure that they pay Royalty in the UK for ANY online usage – whether streaming or downloads.
    Downloads are considered Mechanical Royalties I believe, it’s like buying a virtual CD. In my specific case, they are selling the movie with my music on it online which should return some Mechanical Rights. Of course, none were included in the contract I had to sign, neither for the DVD rentals or sales.
    Am I screwed?
    ( I did email the PRS twice with all the Company’s info and my Ascap ID and am awaiting a response. You will be the first to know!)
    Check this out copied and pasted from the PRS website:

    “We will pay you for a track as long as we are sent the required information from the digital music supplier and we can automatically match it to information stored in our database. For download stores, approximately 90% of downloads are paid out. A high proportion of the 90% is achieved through automatic matching, the remaining downloads are manually matched when it is cost effective to do so.

    Royalties from the online and mobile music providers listed below are paid directly from the money that we collect from them. (Eg money collected from iTunes is paid out to members that have had their music downloaded from iTunes.)

    The companies on this list either generate more than £20,000 per annum or have musical content that is cost effective, for us to analyse. Money from those on this list accounts for 97% of online and mobile revenue.

    7 Digital Media
    Hutchison 3G
    Learning Brook Ltd
    Nokia (formerly OD2)
    Sony Connect
    The In Good Company
    Warp Records

    For companies that generate less money (through either our JOL or LOEL schemes) we pool all the revenue collected and pay it out according to the data that we have.

    This minimises costs and maximises the money that we pay to you.”
    thanks all for your feedback, truly appreciated.

    1. @ Lairr,

      Unless there is language to the contrary in your agreement, when someone downloads a copy of the film, TV episode, video game, etc. in which your music is embedded, you don’t get paid anything more for those uses.

      In your master use/synchronization license (or composer agreement) there should be language that indicates “licensed use” or “exhibition rights” or something of that nature. It will be a part of every contract where music is involved.

      The language is usually something like this:

      “PERFORMANCE and EXHIBITION RIGHTS: The non-exclusive, irrevocable right to use, distribute and perform the Composition and Master throughout the Term and Territory, as embodied in the Program and in-context advertisements thereof, in any manner in any and all media now known or hereafter devised (including without limitation all forms of theatrical and non-theatrical exhibition, DVDs, video cassettes, video discs, video tape and any other form of audiovisual device for home video or otherwise, and all forms of television including without limitation free, pay, and basic origination television, whether programming is transmitted by over-the-air broadcast, microwave, cable, closed circuit or direct broadcast satellite or by any other means now known or hereafter devised).”

      Note that it includes IN context trailer uses (meaning that if they use the scene in which your music is used in any trailer or ad, you don’t get any more money — but you can include an OUT of context trailer option — which should be around twice the amount paid to license your music used in the film, etc. Trailers are paid out of advertising budgets, not the music budgets, so there’s more money to toss around for those additional uses).

      To avoid any separate musical downloads (not embedded in the film, video game, etc.) you need to include language such as this:

      “No soundtrack album or separate audio digital download rights are granted or implied by this License.”

      This ensures that if they want to use your music in a soundtrack CD (or digital download site that makes the music available for separate audio-only downloads), a different agreement must be negotiated and signed (which usually provides for an advance to be paid, as well as a particular amount per unit sold [or download completed]) — all of which is completely spelled out in a soundtrack agreement.

      To make sure they do not use the music in any advertisements or trailers outside the scope of the in-context use (whether an ad for the video game or a movie trailer, etc.), you need to include language something like:

      “OUT-OF-CONTEXT TRAILERS/ADVERTISEMENTS OPTION: Should Licensee choose to exercise this Option, Licensee shall have the non-exclusive, irrevocable right to use, distribute and publicly perform the Master throughout the Term and Territory, in all forms of out-of-context trailers, advertisements, features/making-ofs, promotional programs and all other forms of publicity for or in connection with the Program (collectively, “Ads”) for exploitation in all media now known or hereafter devised, including without limitation, on-line websites.”

      … and then you indicate in another section of the contract what additional amount they’d need to pay in order to exercise the out-of-context trailer use.

      You can also opt to make ANY trailer use an option (in OR out of context), but your chances of securing a placement go down, since production companies have gotten pretty rabid about all-inclusive rights. Heck… some are even asking for the “Territory” to be the UNIVERSE (instead of the world)! I think that’s excessive and don’t give it to ’em. 😉

      But remember…

      Because of the way downloads and streaming uses are currently being defined (and as are in practice in the U.S. and in many other parts of the world), a “download” means a download of the film (or whatever), which is included in the licensed use of the music in the “video buyout” clause. Only a separate digital download of the music itself, on its own, would be considered a download of the MUSIC — and therefore subject to any type of mechanical royalty payment.

      The use of the phrase “in any and all media, now known or hereafter devised” they are saying that no matter what the tech might be tomorrow, the use of your music is included for no extra money.

      So make sure you thoroughly vet ANY contract that comes your way, and that you hammer out the details BEFORE any of your music is used in any project.

      Just because someone wants to use your music doesn’t mean they automatically get to call ALL the shots. Arm yourself with knowledge and negotiate the terms. Know where you can and cannot receive additional monies — whether via performance royalties, trailer options, etc.

      About the only way that you can get any sort of cut from DVD sales is to be a part of the producer’s team on the project — or if you’re lucky enough to get it specifically included in your mast ues/synchronization license (which is highly unlikely). Even the Rolling Stones don’t get a piece of DVD sales for films in which their music appears.

      Of course, every country’s rules, regulations and copyright laws are different, so you need to check your contract against the respective copyright laws and contact your PRO directly for definitive answers. Going to their website won’t suffice. You need to contact a rep at your PRO to go over your specific circumstances.

      Hope that helps,

  9. This is crazy! I will have thousands of dollars lying around worldwide and no one to collect them for me here in the US????
    Any ideas? I can’t possibly sign up to 72 different PROs, now can I? (That’s how many countries are broadcasting the movie)

    What a joke! and let’s keep laughin -or crying- what about DVD sales/Rentals? I know the same EU PROs collect. But who does in the US? anyone?
    Am I gonna lose out on that too?

    1. My understanding is that “record” labels paid mechanicals driectly to recording artists, based upon the number of manufactured units.

      I do not believe that there is a third party, such as a PRO, that collects those royalties.

      This issue may be between you and your client. Perhaps digital downloads are different.

  10. PRS (UK’s PRO) as well as SACEM (France’s PRO) collect Performance Rights for digital downloads but Ascap doesn’t?
    Then who does?

    1. Great question! It seems these PROs are so far behind the times and technology. And in a sense they are a triumvirate of monopolies. It would be amazing if even one of them could step up to the plate and do the F’ing job right. First one that figures out how to collect and distribute in a way that remotely accurately reflects usage and fairness will get ALL the new artists(who pay attention) and a flurry of converts! Are you listening PRO’s? probably they are not listening. Reading industry related forums that speak to the core of their business is not on their agenda of parties and champagne on our dime.

    2. ASCAP and BMI are starting to get involved in the STREAMING of music online, which is considered different to DOWNLOADING (from a store like iTunes or Amazon).

      I believe was one of the first to be involved. ASCAP sued Youtube, so I imagine some pennies from that might start trickling in.

      However, for whatever reason, DOWNLOADING is considered to be a MECHANICAL situation, i.e. considered the same as printing and selling a record or CD.

      Are you sure those European PROs are paying mechanicals, as well performance royalties? If so, that means they’re taking on the job of Harry Fox (which does what ASCAP and BMI does, except with mechanicals instead of performance royalties).

  11. hi
    Does anyone knopw if ASCAP collects on Digital downloads?
    Soundexchange does not include interactive downloads, so that’s out.
    This is what I have found.

    The new US statutory mechanical rates for on-demand streams, conditional downloads, permanent downloads and master ringtones were set in October last year by the Copyright Royalty Board and will remain in effect until 2012. They are:
    Physical formats: 9.1 cents for recordings five minutes or less. For recordings over five minutes, 1.75 cents for each minute.
    Permanent digital downloads: 9.1 cents for recordings five minutes or less. For recordings over five minutes, 1.75 cents for each minute.
    Mastertone ringtones: 24 cents (mono and polyphonic ringtones are not included).
    Limited downloads/interactive streaming: 10.5 percent of revenue less performance royalties, subject to minimum royalties.

    I have scored a 88 min feature film. Producers have set up an interactive website where people can download and rent the movie for a 48 hour period. There have been at least 50,000 rentals so far. I am wondering if I will ever see a penny from that!
    Thanks for your input

    1. ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, etc. are only involved in collection of royalties for public performances and have nothing to so with digital downloads or mechanicals.

  12. so would you guys avoid video game licensing since you dont get much from it?…I mean if a game is selling millions of units it would seem as if a musician would make more

    1. IMO unless it’s a low ball license fee, I’d be happy to get paid! License fees are a good balance to residual income, because you know exactly how much you’re going to get, and it usually comes a lot faster than ASCAP or BMI pay out.

    2. @ smith,

      No more than avoiding placing music in anything that airs of Scripps network shows — and you’ll probably receive a much more lucrative license fee for the video games!

    1. Unfortunately not. We don’t get any performance royalties on DVDs. You might get mechanicals though if you have the publishing, and if the DVD is really successful. I’m not sure how that works, maybe someone who does can chime in.

    2. Check your publishing contract Sergei. You should be entitled to a percent of the mechanical royalties.

    3. @ Sergei,

      It depends on what country you’re in and the PRO with which you’re registered. For U.S. PROs it’s a “no.” DVD/video buyout is part of any master use and/or synchronization license. It’s also part of most composer agreements (works-made-for-hire) as well.

      You should check directly with your PRO and review the agreement you signed for the project to make sure.

      Now, if you created the music for a lesser fee, sometimes DVD royalties/other back-end can be included as an incentive to create… although it’s pretty rare.

    1. Not performance royalties for sure. Other than a license fee, you’re probably not going to see anything more from it. A big shot game composer can get a cut of the sales, which is like a royalty, but most composers don’t get that in their deals these days. If they don’t get it when they score the whole game, it’s unlikely you’ll get anything more for getting a library track licensed.

  13. Can anyone tell me how to create an alias. I’m a member of BMI and don’t see it anywhere on the site. Thanks!

    1. You will have to write a letter to the BMI office that servers your area. Mines was nashville. I think you have to include your social security number

  14. Is there ASCAP member who is not a US-citizen?
    I’m not a US-citizen and member of ASCAP but I can’t activate “Member Access”.
    I’m wondering how member who isn’t US-citizen can activate ASCAP’s “Member Access”. SSN or TIN must be needed to activate “Member Access” but this numbers are issued to US-citizen.
    Is it essential that ASCAP member who is not US-citizen have to be issued ITIN instead of SSN,TIN by IRS to activate “Member Access”? or,
    Is there ASCAP member who is not US-citizen and activated “Member Access” without ITIN? (I’m also wondering if EIN is applied like ITIN to activate Member Access)
    Please give me some advice.

      1. Thanks for answer John.
        It is sad that ASCAP doesn’t answer especially about this problem when I send a question email about this several times. It is more sad that I can’t speak in English well to call ASCAP and all I can communicate with ASCAP is using email.
        But I tried to send more detailed email again hoping to solve this problem.

        1. If you just joined ASCAP it will take at least 2-3 weeks before you can activate member access. That’s my experience anyway. Not sure about the other issues you mentioned though.

          1. I joined ASCAP about 4 month ago but still didn’t get any answers how to activate Member Access without SSN/ TIN. Of course I didn’t send email to ASCAP websupport EVERY DAY but sent email about five times about this problem. And I finally considering about to leave ASCAP if this problem continues to remain without any member supports.

            1. Sorry to hear that. I had a different issue some months back and I also found that they don’t answer emails. Unfortunately, it seems the only way to get through to them is to call (as John stated above).

            2. LJCD,

              Maybe i missed it, but how did you sign up with ASCAP without a SSN or Tax ID number?

              I’m not an accountant, it is my understanding that in order to pay American taxes, which is probably required if you have an American ASCAP publishing entity, you will need a SSN or Tax ID number….

              ASCAP web support will probably not help you, you will need to call the ASCAP offices in Los Angeles (323) 883 – 1000 to help with your problem…

              1. I have found I need SSN or TIN in the paper application form of ASCAP. I wrote temporary EIN instead of SSN or TIN or ITIN and maybe it was accepted. I know of that non-US citizens will pay tax(30%) to IRS from their of earning from the US. Or non-US citizens will pay about 10% tax to IRS if they have ITIN or EIN. But I don’t know for certain whether this rule is applicable to royalty or not. Anyway, I joined ASCAP with temporary EIN but I didn’t know SSN, TIN will be needed to activate Member Access and EIN doesn’t work. Thanks for helping. It is very hard for me to call oversea but maybe there is no way but to call.

                1. Hi, LJCD,

                  I got the same situation, too. (I’m from Japan and join recently.)
                  ASCAP emailed to me “Welcome to join” but I can’t update or see anything first time user.
                  How do you think about to register song title at first? I mean not waiting activate Member Access fixed, instead. Am I wrong idea?


  15. The network cue sheet/survey system is alot more streamlined than that of cable. The best way to handle this is to either.

    1) Show ascap tunesat data and hope they honor it (probably won’t happen anytime this year)

    or even better

    2) Ask the music house/ad agency for the ads’ Media Buy, then submit that to ascap.

  16. I just received my ASCAP publisher check and noticed that my NETWORK survery for a commercial I did was reported, but that there were NO payments for the Cable usage of this commercial.

    Does anyone know if ASCAP pays royalties for music used in commercials on cable?

    1. If it’s one of the Scripps Network (HGTV, Food Network etc.) possibly not. They’ve been in negotiations with ASCAP forever and I think I read they might start paying soon. Don’t know for sure though.

  17. Does anyone know what the score is for music synched with video games? (Gameplay background music as opposed to main or character theme music.) We just stumbled across a credit for one of our tracks used in a recently released PC game. I’m assuming it’s the same as DVD sales where the only way royalties can be earned is by negotiating a mechanical royalty agreement with the licensee, but I really have no idea.

    Backend or not, it was really good of them to credit us! So often library music is simply credited to the library rather than the composer.

    1. Not 100% sure, but Kevin Riepl (composer of Gears of War) told me there is no royalties for Game Music. Thats not a final answer, but just what I was told in general regarding this 🙂

      1. That’s pretty much what I thought so I’m by no means disappointed.
        I’m really quite pleased to have discovered a track of ours being used in this format along with some very favourable reviews about the music used in the game.

  18. Tunesat seems to be gaining more and more ground in the industry. They have recently announced:

    “Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG), the world’s leading global music publisher, and TuneSat, LLC announced today that they have entered into a deal to utilize TuneSat audio fingerprint technology to monitor performance use of UMPG’s vast copyrights across U.S. broadcast television.”

    They have also announced:

    “Our BMI/ASCAP comparison report is in beta testing. With this advancement, we look forward to providing users with a customized exception report comparing your PRO royalties against our detection data.”

    Hopefully the PROs are getting the message!

  19. @ Dansen: Thanks for the kind words.

    @ Art: You ain’t so shoddy yourself, dude. 🙂 I think that your commitment to the composer community is outstanding — hosting this site and making info freely available to all. Not too many go out of their way to help the next generation of artists/composers, and you have stepped up to the plate in a major fashion.


  20. I just wanted to take a moment to say that this is a fantastic thread…full of valuable information and insight from everyone involved.

    And YOU, Gael MacGregor, must be commended for your contributions – not only on this forum – but elsewhere regarding the current unionization effort. You have intelligent, logical, and insightful contributions capped by years of experience. I would nominate you for president of the United States, but I know you wouldn’t want THAT job!

    Again, kudos to all posters (and naturally, to Art Munson).

  21. Quick question – if you sell tracks on “Royalty free” sites, and “Royalty” sites, what happens if the tv station in question claims to have bought the track under a royalty free license? Is there any way of following up to know? Would this cause confusion with this?

    1. I have same or similar question, too.

      Artist sell Song “A” on “Royalty Free” site AND “Royalty site”.
      Company B bought or licensed song “A” from “Royalty site”.
      But afterward, company B noticed that song “A” is also sold on “Royalty free” site.
      I’m wondering about this situation.
      Please give some advice.

  22. Thanks people, great info about Sound Exchange. I’m registering to it too.
    I have another question.
    I’ve registered all of my tracks with BMI but I’ve uploaded only the titles, lengh and descriptions, no audio files. How does BMI finds my music if it even didn’t listen to it and has only titles ..? I guess there is enough music in the world with the same titles that I have.. so how BMI knows the music is mine?

  23. Makes sense. So as a composer when you’re music get’s licensed for anything used online/Satellite/cable SE collects for you automatically, but if you aren’t registered you don’t know that it is there. Is this correct?

    1. As a performer or a master owner. SX is required to collect for you automatically. You just have to go register, and you get paid going forward, and you can claim for like 10 years of back royalties if you didn’t know you were earning.

  24. Online/satellite/cable services which use the blanket government license to play any track they want are required to report what they play to SoundExchange. if they’re not relying on the government license, then they have to have a direct license with the copyright holder (as if it was used in a tv show, or supplied for download). But most things that are radio-style, that is, not on-demand, are covered under the license that SoundExchange pays on. Congress set up the license, then told SoundExchange to take care of the details. That make sense?

    Nathan – SoundExchange pays artists and sound recording copyright owners – that is, the owner of the master recording (can be a label, or the artist, or a 3rd party). If you’re solely a songwriter but don’t perform your own work, you’re fully covered by ASCAP/BMI/SESAC.

  25. It’s absolutely worth it to register with SoundExchange. it’s only a couple of forms, and there’s never any fee. You don’t have to register your repertoire with SoundExchange OR with the copyright office to be eligible to receive royalties. It helps, but when webcasters report your name as the artist, you accrue royalties thru SoundExchange whether you’ve registered your repertoire or not. They collect royalties for you from anybody using the blanket government license for streaming sound recordings – including satellite radio, internet radio, broadcasters that simulcast on the web, and the high-numbered cable channels that stream music without video. There is NO downside. Even if it’s only $50 a year, you only have to fill out the forms once, there’s no repertoire registry, and you get paid whenever they collect for you. You’ve gotta do it.

    1. Thanks for the response Jenny. The part that I still don’t understand is who reports to soundexchange? So if my music is in an ad on say… or a show on HULU better yet, is it the websites responsibilty to report the music usages to SE? If it is a show on HULU how are they going to track the original cue sheets from the shows? Either way I’m definitely going to register now, I just had some concerne b/c they mention the U.S copyright office multiple times on the faq’s and I don’t register catalogues through them very often (until I have a lot of works) b/c of the time it takes and the $35 fee. Thanks again!

  26. Was just on the soundexchange site’s faq’s and a lot is still unclear to me. Actually, is there anyone who can give a simple breakdown on how soundexchange works and if it is a necessity or worth the while?

    Does everything have to be registered with the U.S. Copyright office to collect? If so it may not be worth it as it cost’s $35 to register a new catalogue. If you register 1 catalogue a year and it only earns you say $12 from SE it’s not quite worth the money or time spent registering on that horrible gov site. In all honesty it seems like a lot of extra administative work to collect pennies in the end (That’s assuming you have to register every piece of work with them and the U.S. Copyright office) Hopefully someone proves my theory wrong as it would be a bonus to find another form of income.

    Also, Is it the same process as registering your works with a PRO like BMI? In the event that the Music Library you are working for registers your works do they cover this as well?

    Lastly, I Pulled the following from the FAQ’s on their site, they mention collecting you revenue for the SRC but do not explain anything on satellite broacasts or internet.

    ASCAP, BMI and SESAC represent a different copyright than SoundExchange. ASCAP, BMI and SESAC collect performance revenue for the owners of the copyrighted musical work (the song), i.e. music publishers, songwriters and composers. SoundExchange collects performance revenue for owners of the sound recording copyright (the recording) and for featured and nonfeatured artists. SoundExchange, therefore, performs a different function and does not compete with ASCAP, BMI or SESAC. In fact, a company with both publishing (“song”) copyrights and recording copyrights should join collecting societies administering both types of rights: one for the song and another for the sound recording copyright.

    Sorry if I’ve overdone it with this post. Just trying to see if it’s worth it.

  27. Are you familiar with “SoundExchange”? As I understood, they are gathering for you royalties from media (internet) and such. Someone registered to this one ? If you sell your music on Free Royalties Libraries, you don’t deserve those payments, cause your music is free of such royalties, correct ? So who needs SoundExchange ? Only those bands who have music but don’t sell it on Free Royalties Libraries?

    1. No that is incorrect about the term “Royalty Free”. It means that the consumer does not have to pay any royalties. However it is standard procedure for them to fill out a cue sheet for any music used in a production that is broadcasted. Once these are filed properly it is the networks responsibilty to pay the PRO’s who then pay the writer’s share “performance royalties”.

      1. Tom,

        Are those broadcasts include internet broadcasts like internet radio, for example?
        Cause “SoundExchange” are not regular PRO (like BMI/ASCAP) – they gather royalties from internet broadcasts and not TV/Film.

    2. Tom is correct.

      And Sergei, you need Soundexchange if your music is played in the media that Soundexchange covers.

      I belong to ASCAP (but would like to switch) and Soundexchange.

  28. Can you be a member of 2 PRO? One as a solo artist and another in a band?

    example: join ASCAP as Jon Doe

    join BMI as The Jon Doe Band (with yourself and another person)


    1. No, you can only be under one PRO. Each band member will have to register themself. You give them every bit of info including SSN so there’s no way of John Doeing your way through it. When you register your works is when you have the choice to register as a solo artist or however you want it split amongst the group. I’d go with BMI as I’ve heard a lot of bad things about ASCAP on here and other places, but choose as you will.

  29. Hi!
    I’ve joined BMI recently and I have a question, haven’t got the answer from BMI support yet.
    While registering a track, there is an optional field saying:
    “Was the work created for an Audio-Visual Production or Music Library?”
    I’m selling my tracks on different royaltee free libraries and placement libraries. Should I fill in this field ? If so, what should I write in “Production Title” ? The name of the track or all the names of all the libraries my tracks is selling on?
    And what should be in the “CD Identifier” and “Cut Number”? I don’t understand what those last two actually mean..


    1. If you’ve emailed BMI, they have consistently taken about 5 months to respond to my emails. When you call them, they say they’ll call back, but don’t! I don’t check those boxes for Audio-Visual Production or Music Library, because the music wasn’t specifically created for those libraries. Who knows, I could be wrong!

  30. I have music with a couple libraries, and am currently unsigned with a P.R.O., but want to before long, both as a composer/songwriter and my own publishing. I’m wondering, if libraries take the publishing share, then how does that end up in their hands if I was listed as a publisher with BMI?

    I saw above where someone said that a composer keeps his publishing with the PRO, but how does the sub publishing agreement go? Also, with the same works being in the hands of several different libraries, is it possible to get multiple sub publishers for each work???

    It seems confusing.

  31. Thanks for your answer.
    Still a bit confusing…I guess I have to read up on that subject or ask a specialist…

  32. Hi,

    first of all, let me say, that this is really a great site. Lots of good information.
    I have a question. Maybe someone can help me. I hope, it fits in this thread.

    I want to sell royalty free music like I already do, but would also like to have my music (not the same music) in libraries, where I only benefit from, when I’m a member of a PRO.

    Do you know a PRO where I can be a member as a foreigner (I’m from Germany), that allows me to decide, which tracks I want to register with a PRO and which tracks are royalty free???
    GEMA, the german PRO, wouldn’t allow me that. If you’re a member of GEMA, all tracks are NOT royalty-free anymore. If I would join GEMA, I would have to remove all my tracks from royalty-free libs. Every new created track would automatically become GEMA-material.
    Do you have any ideas? How can I cover both models?

    Thanks, Nils

    1. In the US, you can resign from your PRO ‘for the world’ or ‘foreign collections’, but keep your coverage in the States. Don’t know if GEMA will let you do that, though.

      I’m not understanding that, though… GEMA can’t legally demand that you do that, it would seem, any more than they could demand you register everything. Hmm.

      – S

  33. I found the answer in ASCAP’s Rules section 1.11 – 1.11.5 et seq. Basically, if the publisher. or a co-writer, of any of your works remains an ASCAP member, ASCAP retains the right to collect the royalties on those works, and will continue to pay you. Royalties for your new works would be collected by your new PRO.

    I don’t see this being an issue, then, with current publishers. This would potentially be a problem in a retitling situation.

    I guess it boils down to whether you trust ASCAP to continue payments properly, and whether you’re in a position to move forward with creating a new, i.e., not retitled catalog.


    1. Here is an interesting read I found on the problems of making a PRO switch and the potential problems of leaving your tunes in ASCAP. It certainly makes it sound like you’re in for a possible loss of income by changing to another PRO.

      > I spoke with a BMI rep last week and am thinking about changing to BMI any
      > thoughts about doing this? does BMI seem as incapable as ASCAP? Any
      > thoughts?

      In terms of broad-stroke distribution, historically, ASCAP and BMI are
      somewhat joined at the hip lest one PRO suffer mass defections to the other. Each
      PRO appears to have the ability to throw money at special circumstances and move
      distribution monies around.

      On paper, ASCAP has a more liberal policy in paying royalties for music used
      in advertising than does BMI. On the other hand, BMI has a more liberal policy
      as to instrumental score that may qualify to be paid at feature rates than
      that practiced at ASCAP.

      BMI execs have claimed deeper surveys in local TV and basic cable,
      anecdotally, and I believe them. Otherwise, many policies are uncannily similar when you
      get to the bottom line.

      Should you decide to switch, the big question you must answer is whether to
      terminate your agreement with ASCAP (taking your catalog with you) or
      terminating with rights (leaving your previous catalog at ASCAP and starting a fresh
      catalog with BMI.

      There are pros & cons with each approach, and I would query executives with
      EACH PRO to clearly establish policy in both cases. Preferably in writing, but
      I doubt you can get it. This despite provisions of AFJ2 that demand that ASCAP
      may not encumber your process in switching to BMI. Handily, certain of these
      provisions in AFJ2 will not become enforceable until a BMI Amended Final
      Judgment is adopted– and such a document does not appear to be in development.

      This effectively releases ASCAP from many a policy involving your right to
      switch. AFJ2 stipulates that any member may resign ASCAP at the end of any
      calendar year giving notice 3 months prior. ASCAP policy now exceeds this provision
      by tying your “window to switch” to 3 months prior to your original election
      date to ASCAP, a piece of information not listed on your statement– you have
      to research it. If you miss the window you will be prevented in switching (or
      affiliating directly with a foreign society) for a year, perhaps more. This is
      a direct affront to AFJ2 orders save for the “BMI out-clause.”

      Should you decide to take your catalog with you, pay particular attention to
      the publishing ramifications if you do not own the copyright of works you
      intend to move. Have each PRO disclose the rules to you in this regard.
      Additionally, you want each PRO to agree on the PRECISE date in which ASCAP stops
      collecting on your behalf and BMI takes it over. If you’re not careful, you can fall
      into a void in which NO ONE is collecting or distributing for you for at
      least nine months.

      Speaking from experience– should you terminate ASCAP with rights, the
      general promise is “to distribute on those titles as if you were still an ASCAP
      member.” However, you’ll find that those titles you left at ASCAP will be
      stripped-off the ACE online database as if they never existed. If a foreign PRO was
      consulting ACE in an effort to send performance money to an appropriate place,
      their research would reveal NOTHING. I cannot conclude other than this is a
      punishment ASCAP inflicts upon members who terminate. Another policy enabled by
      the DOJ when they largely cut ASCAP loose from government scrutiny and vacated
      previous consent decrees specifying the rights of members. Specifically, the
      “1960 Order” was abandoned– and a number of important rights were lost.

      This and other factors make international performance money a black hole.
      It’s perfectly okay for a foreign society to send performance money from my ASCAP
      titles to BMI if they notice that I switched. But IF they’re consulting the
      BMI database, my previous titles don’t appear there either because they are
      ASCAP administered domestically. And of course, they’re not listed on ASCAP’s ACE
      either. The Twilight Zone. Still, the foreign society can send the money to
      ASCAP on my behalf, or just give up on the process as being too much trouble.

      These are precisely the issues you want execs from ASCAP and BMI to address
      so you can make an informed decision about the administration of your works.

      Any info you can share about your experiences in this area will assist others
      on the ProList in making decisions for themselves.

      I hope this information is helpful to you and others– it is hard won.

  34. Hello All,

    I am new to this forum. I’ve been an ASCAP member for 25+ years. In the 1990’s I had a smooth jazz CD that charted at #44 nationally. I received exactly nine dollars ($9) in royalties from ASCAP. In 2000 ASCAP overpaid me for a track that was used on CBS sports. They deducted the overpayment as an “advance” for the next 10 years!

    I’ve done a fair number of library tracks over the years.

    1) What happens to my catalog if I switch to BMI? Anyone made the switch?

    2) Anyone belong to BMI and SESAC, or ASCAP and SEASAC? Mark Northam at FMN suggests belonging to both a domestic and foreign PRO.



    1. Ah, the ASCAP issue once again 🙂 I have thought about leaving ASCAP to join BMI or SESAC for several years now for pretty much the same reasons – their payment schedule is very unpredictable and unfair to instrumental writers.

      But having a catalog of over 500 active tunes, I’m concerned about the confusion that will ensue once I leave. Will they continue to pay me any money that comes in after the songs are pulled or will that money be put into the general fund for the big boys to carve up? Will all the publishers who have my songs get annoyed at the extra paperwork of switching over their ASCAP companies to BMI/SESAC? Will the loss of money due to all this confusion outweigh the shortcomings of staying with ASCAP? The unknown keeps me from making that move.

      Has anyone here done the switch?

  35. I have a few questions for anyone who understands the track registration process with PRS for Music/ MCPS. My partner and I have been PRS members for a few years now, and have been adding our tracks to the database as we record them and add them to libraries. We are now also MCPS members as our own publisher. So here’s my first question:

    Do we add our publishing name as original publisher to each track we’ve registered? Our entire catalogue is self published, so I assume the answer to this question is yes.

    Where it gets confusing (to me anyway) is where certain libraries that we are with and have licensed tracks with take a cut of publishing – Audiosparx for example. Should we list them as sub-publishers of all the tracks we’ve licensed through their library? What about tracks which have been licensed multiple times with different libraries?

    Where tracks have subversions – i.e. 60, 30 and 15 second edits; stingers; or underscores, should we register each version as a new work? There is no way of adding subversions to a main track registration. We title each one with the original track name plus the edit type – would this be sufficient for any subversion to be associated with the original track?

    Finally, does anyone know whether it is possible to get the PRS to add our new MCPS publishing name to all tracks we have registered, or do we need to go in and do it one by one?

    Apologies for the fuzziness of these questions – my brain is currently in meltdown trying to get this stuff straightened out! Any help and advice on any of these questions would be VERY much appreciated!

    1. From Conversing with other library owners they said each edit gets a separate number
      and treated as a different piece so for example 10 tracks with 4 edits is 40 tracks.
      On your first question,answer is yes,whenever you register a new song,you can register it before any other sub-publishing deals under your own publishing CO.I believe when you sign with exclusive non-exclusive companies,they get the pub when placed by them and exclusive means they only have the rights as a Library company to the pub on those deals per your contract.
      2.Audio Sparx will register themselves,you can confirm this by checking with PRO=PRS
      3.LIcensed tracks with multiple libraries are fine as long as they are non-exclusive and the better librairies will put their initials/track number and then your titles for each piece they register as the publisher.
      5.need to go in and do it!

  36. Yea i gave them my cae number from the start. The guy just probably was too lazy or overwhelmed to make sure it was registered under the right composer. Matt do you know if any monies has been paid to the other person would i be able to get that back???

    1. I don’t know for sure, but the PROs are really good at subtracting money when they’ve made a mistake… much faster than ADDING money when they’ve screwed up!

    2. You would think that other person would have reported the error when he got paid for a track that wasn’t his. Last week a track showed up on my ASCAP ACE that wasn’t mine. I reported it immediately to the publusher and it was corrected.

  37. ok so now i was looking under someone else’s work titles who have the same name as me and i see that my titles that were with the non-exclusive company were registered under the wrong person. How do i get this switched to the right person??? If any money was paid to this person…can i get the money back??? WOW!!!

    1. Yikes, I’ve been there before. To fix it, call BMI immediately. Then explain to your library clients that they have to use your full name – including middle name, for any future cue sheets. Also, you should always make sure you give this info from now on when working with libraries, or any broadcast project for that matter.
      The CAE number doesn’t hurt either, but from experience, most libraries don’t use it.
      It shouldn’t be your job to take care of this stuff, but ultimately it’s up to you to make sure you get your royalties.

    2. You have every right to request filed cue sheets from the library and/or the PRO for any project in which your music is used. You are an “interested [or “invested”] party” in that you are the writer, and you are entitled to any information that affects the use of your copyright (the “work”). You are also entitled to copies of the registrations made by the library with the PRO for the same reason. Get on the case of whoever registered those works incorrectly with your PRO, and make them fix it. Find out how much SHOULD have been paid to you from your PRO and then request that amount from whichever library made the mistake. The worst they can say is “no” but at least you’ve put them on notice that you won’t put up with sloppy admin. Going forward, demand a copy of the registration by the library to the PRO of any of your new titles with them.

      Something that often contributes to such scenarios, though, is that a lot of writers (especially those who have an aka artist name) don’t provide the correct info.

      You must always have your compositions registered in EXACTLY the same manner in which you are registered with your PRO. If you’re registered there with a middle name, use it in your licenses, contracts with libraries, and any other legal documents. If you have an aka, list that as well, but cue sheets MUST have your name noted exactly as you are registered with your PRO — no exceptions.

      I can’t tell you how many times I have to fix this info for licenses and cue sheets….

      Lucky Louie says he is the writer and that he has Lucky Louie Music as his publishing entity.

      Yeah… not…

      Lucky Louie is actually registered with his PRO as Louis G. Hamilton III, and he doesn’t even have a registered publishing entity, so he needs to be listed as “author published.”

      Be meticulous, be diligent, and never assume that someone else is handling the details with 100% accuracy. Follow up on everything. It’s an unfortunate reality that the business side of this business is often handled badly, and the creators of the works are always last to get what’s due them.

  38. I have a big question. I sold some tracks to a library exclusively and now that i’m looking @ my BMI works registration i don’t see any of those tracks listed. I still get 2 keep my writers share so is it my responsibility to register these works??? If i wouldn’t have went on the website to find the actual album that they put together i wouldn’t have ever known what names they renamed the tracks to. Also an non-exclusive library accepted some of my tracks a couple years ago and i remember him sending me a pdf file with the renamed tracks. Was i supposed to take that and register with BMI??? I’m still learning this part of it. If someone could educate me on this that would be greatly appreciated.

  39. Hey all,

    any thoughts on this :
    I’m looking at a contract at the moment thats an exlclusive deal, however it indicates that the writer wouldn’t be due any revenue ( other than PRO payments ) from any usage thats described as “blanket license”.

    1. It means that the library can make a blanket deal with a network (or whoever), receive compensation via that blanket license, and no one but the library gets any money when your music is used. I repeat: No one but the LIBRARY gets any money when YOUR music is used.

      The blanket license takes the place of individual music licenses. TV shows — especially low-budget ones — like this scenario since they don’t have to do any paperwork other than cue sheets.

      The reason libraries do this is because it takes time and effort to figure out what was used where and they don’t want to have to break things down so everyone can get their fair share. They claim too many man-hours needed to get the “paltry” sums to each writer/artist. Well… all those “paltry” sums add up for them and they pay their rent with ’em. Too bad YOUR landlord isn’t getting any of that cash when your work is used.

      An alternative to this is a sort of blanket license — where a show is given a catalogue of music, and they’re allowed to pick, say, 10 pieces for every episode. Based on the total per-season blanket fee, the dollars are pro-rated for each episode, and the each-episode fee is then pro-rated based on how many pieces are actually used. Cue sheets for each episode with the proper info is provided, and then all the composers/artists are compensated at the end of each season based on how much of their music was used during that season. This is a FAIR way of doing things. Paying nothing to those who create the work, and then having the privilege to exploit it without compensation to the creators is NOT.

  40. Hi Everyone,

    This is my first post but I’ve been visiting for several months. This site is invaluable. Thank you Art for creating it and thanks to everyone else for your contributions.

    I have a question that Google hasn’t been able to help me with too much. I’m registered with ASCAP as a writer. I have music in five libraries. Depending on the library, some ask you to list a publisher (with said publisher’s PRO affiliation) when providing track information. What’s the best thing to do? Just put my name? Should I register with ASCAP as a publisher even though I haven’t formally founded a publishing company of my own? ASCAP doesn’t go too deep in their FAQs and I haven’t really come up with any solid guidance on the web. One of the libraries I have an agreement with gives you the option of letting them administer the publisher’s share (of which they give you 50%). So that’s clear. Any thoughts? I’m still figuring some of this stuff out. Thanks!

    1. If you own your publishing (meaning you haven’t given away all publishing in your deals with the various libraries/companies), and you’re an ASCAP writer, you need to create an ASCAP publishing entity.

      BMI allows a writer who owns their own publishing (but has no formal publishing entity) to note the publisher name as “Writer Name (author published)” and they will receive both their writer and publisher share royalties.

      ASCAP will not. They will hold the publishing royalty money “in trust” (whatever THAT means, since I don’t know anyone who has been able to cash in later on that) until such time as a publisher is attached to the registered work.

      If you’ve given away your publishing with the respective libraries repping your music, then whatever company is attached to a specific title is what you should note for cue sheet purposes.

  41. Scott you’ve hit the nail on the head.

    The playing field has changed fundamentally for PRO’s, and they seem to be struggling to adapt.

    There’s nothing they can do about plummeting advertising revenues, although this may itself be symptomatic of a structural change in media and marketing models. However they seem to be struggling to stay abreast of a rapidly evolving broadcast environment. The myriad of platforms, online usage, new and rapdily expanding territories and methods of distribution are challenging their ability to monitor and collect on behalf of their members.

    I had a long chat with the technical director at PRS (the UK’s collection agency) a week or so ago. They have been trialing music fingerprinting in an attempt to stay abreast of real-time usage monitoring, but the logistical challenges involved in implementing this klind of system are huge. Basically, they can’t do it without the cooperation of the broadcasters, and even then they’d only have the UK covered.

    All collection agencies manage (somehow) to claim every year was a record year for collections, but talk to any sample of composers, and you’ll get a very clear picture that royalty payments are falling. We largely have Audionetwork and the disease of so-called ‘royalty free music’ to thank for that, and for a general deterioration in the quality of music used in media.

    I see some turbulent waters ahead.


  42. So, I’ll throw a hand grenade into the oatmeal here… wanted to get some thoughts on the following:

    1. In 2009, network TV ad revenues were down 21.5%, & local TV plummeted 28.1%

    2. BMI is being sued by 1,200 local/regional TV & radio broadcasters for access to cue sheets and the right to direct license its’ members.

    3. ASCAP has lost so much money in live licensing, they’ve replaced the Nashville president and are going after arts venues & non-profit organizations. Membership has also declined in Nashville…

    With these issues, a glut of available royalty-free music, and the death of the music industry as we know it, are the PROs in trouble?

    1. From what I’ve read, ASCAP continues to increase it’s payout every year, by about 10%. Money’s coming from somewhere… maybe cable TV. Also, more and more international PROs are coming on board.

      I have a friend in the broadcasting business in China, who told me that even there, where bootleg and pirated DVDs are sold on practically every street corner, the broadcasters are going legit and starting to use more library music instead of unlicensed film music.

      But your question is valid – what happens to PROs when more and more shows are available online, and we head towards a 100% pay per view future?

    2. This is one of the more interesting threads on the site with well thought out statements and a mature conversation.
      I look forward to more postings and thoughts about this subject as I also agree that the state of PROs is in a flux but I am looking at it from the other end… life after PROs.

      Partners In Rhyme Inc.

  43. One more thing.
    At the top you need to have:
    Music Production Title/ Air Date
    Music Prod. Company/ Type of commercial or show
    Producer/ Length of show
    Music Director/

    1. I am looking at one of my cue sheets here now.
      Its in an excel spreadsheet form and once filled in I e-mail this directly to
      a contact person at bmi.
      from left to right
      title/composer/publisher/agency[BMI/Ascap/sesac…}Usage-theme/BI=backround instrumental/song/length/TC=time code in
      So there you have it.
      Length is how long your cue is and tc in is when your cue starts according frames,minutes,seconds.
      Hope that helps.

      1. I contacted RapidCue a couple years ago, and they made it VERY clear to me that only producers (i.e. the producers of the TV show) can use RapidCue, not composers.

        1. That sucks. They don’t trust composers, who might ‘cook the books’ to make more money. However, the production companies invariably screw up the cue sheets, as the person filling them out has no vested interest in accuracy.

    2. I have a generic cue sheet template that’s an template and can be used with PC or MAC. Just load it into wherever your Word templates are stored and once you create a new .doc file within Word, it’s a simple F11 command to take you to the next variable field to fill in (although some folks, depending on their system, might just to have to manually go to each field, dunno why).

      Download for free at:

      Hope that helps anyone who needs to follow up on unfiled or misfiled cue sheets. Assuming you have all the correct writer/publisher info for all cues used in the program, you can, under the “abundance of caution” moniker, file the cue sheets on your own (you’ll probably have to do it the old-fashioned way, via snail mail or fax).

  44. Please keep us posted on your experience with Tunesat Art.

    I’m thinking of signing up, after a series of shambollic experiences with the UK collection agencies. I think composers are going to have to start taking more control over usage monitoring.


  45. I too have heard stories about the original ascap writers compositions and their estates getting there compositions weighted 3 times in pay compared to everyone else!More unfairness in a unfair world already.Gotta vote for protection of writers rights than voting for corporate interests.

  46. Yeah, it’s a gamble wherever you go. A lot depends on the reporting from the clients of the music libraries. I wouldn’t lay all the blame on ASCAP.

  47. I’ve been fortunate to develop a personal relationship with several people at SESAC’s Nashville office, and I think they appreciate my willingness to learn the business as much as I’ve appreciated their consistent, knowledgeable support, as well their ability to admit that they do miss things from time to time – and fix them. My payments are always on time, always paid in the following quarter, and any time I have a question, I can get it answered either via phone/email that day, or with a face to face meeting in a week or less.

    None of the things I’ve ever heard about ASCAP lead me to believe that composers making under 6 figures in royalties will ever get a fair shake there. That and the knowledge that 10% of ASCAP’s folks make 90% of the income, coupled with the fact that they pay out all ‘unclaimed’ income at the end of the year to that top 10% as a ‘bonus’, makes me wonder what many are thinking when they sign up with them.

    To enhance Art’s notes about ASCAP from the FMPro list (above), here are
    some sobering facts for any composer thinking to sign with ASCAP:

    1. ASCAP was founded by Victor Herbert, a composer, and Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern,
    Otto Harbach, James Weldon Johnson (co-founder of the NAACP), Jerome Kern, &
    John Phillip Sousa. The story follows that they organized ASCAP after finding out that
    songwriter Stephen Foster had died penniless, while his publisher had made big $$$$$.
    Herbert was responsible for helping get the Copyright Act of 1909 passed, via his testimony to US Congress.

    ASCAP’s main constituents until the 1940’s were TIN PAN ALLEY songwriters.

    Apart from Herbert & Sousa, all of its initial board members were songwriters. A vast
    majority of ASCAP’s board has always been songwriters.

    2. Most radio/film composers from the 40’s on were essentially employees of the studios (many also worked as songwriters – Victor Young comes to mind). With the PROs having no ability to collect royalties in US theaters, the decline of “composed” music (due to ‘serial’ music and other experimentation no one really wanted to listen to) and the advent of rock/blues, composers never had a chance of equal treatment… it’s purely economic.

    3. ALL US broadcasters, and ALL foreign PROs, when paying royalties for American composers or songwriters via PROs, pay 1-1, regardless of the ‘usage’ in a film or TV show. ASCAP can be credited with inventing the idea of “scaled usage” where broadcast is concerned. To my knowledge, ASCAP pays less for score/BI/background instrumental than the other US PROs. (I’ve compared notes with ASCAP & BMI composers)

    I live in ‘Songwriter Town’. But I’m trying to make myself a commodity – I encourage you all to do the same.

    1. Thanks Scott, great comment.

      I also talked to SESAC when I was thinking of moving. A number of folks have had good experiences with them. But I do have a friend who made the change and found that he was getting less than when he was with BMI. When he complained they “adjusted” his rate.


  48. Cue sheets aside,if you can get the actual media buys from the companies that do the network buying,where the shows played here in the states and elsewhere this will give you a closer accounting of whats happening.I believe that info can be obtained but what an amazing pain in the ass.Some have lawyers go after it in my experience.One more thing you have to do takes away from being a composer!

    1. Sure do. It helps me track of what is running where. I have quite a few cues that get played constantly on various shows on the Scripps network. Scripps has not yet finalized their deal with BMI. My rep at BMI says it will be valuable to have as much data as possible to ensure I get the maximum payout when they do settle.

      1. I caught this on another forum. Sounds like Scripps is playing hardball. In my experience, getting the PROs to pay on these deals is very frustrating and unproductive. I’m trying to get paid for major national airplay from first quarter 2008 and ASCAP is giving me the big runaround. They want me to provide all the info from the ad agency. I think that’s their job and told them so but sometimes it’s like talking to the wall.

        “I have just learned to my cost that the Scripps Network..(HGTV,Food Network amongst others) don’t pay any back-end royalties for any of the music that is used on their shows.
        I’m told by BMI that the production companies sign individual contracts with Sripps.

        Is this cue sheet royalty thing some kind of ‘Gentlemen’s Agreement’ between Networks and PRS’s?

        Can anyone enlighten me to what’s going on here?
        Who’s being paid for all the music….and there’s tonnes!!…on HGTV and The Food Network?

        I here that BMI and Ascap have been ‘Negotating ‘ with Scripps since 2002!….hmmm.”

        1. Unless I’m missing something, that sounds kinda creepy, like’d they get away with that for 8 years? Where does that money sit while they negotiate?! yuck:(

          1. Get away with what? If Scripps isn’t licensed by ASCAP/BMI/SESAC, they don’t have to pay a dime. And I can assure you they don’t want to… Cue sheet royalties are NOT a given. EVER. Most production companies don’t even file them until well after the show has aired, I recently learned.

            For a time, Scripps were having composers come to the Knoxville office to do music for all of their shows for $25/hour, ALL IN. Never see another dime for their work.

            Damnit, guys – have some backbone!

            1. Ah, cue sheets…

              If you’re an ASCAP writer they’re pretty meaningless, thanks to their practice of paying estimates based on surveys. Come up on the survey dates and they’ll then guess as to how much money you should make that quarter. Don’t come up on any of the survey dates and you get nothing, even if you shove cue sheets under their noses and TV guide listing proving the show in which you had that one song/composition aired 12 times ’cause of syndication.

              There is no hard and fast rule as to when a production has to file a cue sheets. It is suggested that they do so “in a timely manner” but that can mean 9 months after the first release of the film or airing of a show.

              To get around the cue sheet problem, I suggest that y’all have a clause in your license with any production using your work that commits them to delivery of cue sheets within a specific time frame after first release/airing of the project.

              Something like this:

              “Licensee [that’s them] shall deliver to the appropriate PROs a music cue sheet with regard to the Program, and furnish a copy of completed music cue sheet (as filed with the respective PROs) to Licensor [that’s you] no later than thirty (30) days after the first release of the Program in any media (excluding festival or preview showings).”

              To keep your music from getting lost in the Scripps like scenarios, I suggest you use the wording often found in licensing agreements from the majors. This explicitly prohibits them from airing a show that doesn’t have a license with the PROs:

              “5. LICENSED USE.
              (i) The non-exclusive, irrevocable right to use, distribute and perform the Compositions and the Masters throughout the Term and Territory, as embodied in the Program and in-context trailers and advertisements thereof, in any manner in any and all media now known or hereafter devised (including without limitation all forms of theatrical and non-theatrical exhibition, video cassettes, video discs, DVDs, video tape and any other form of audiovisual device for home video or otherwise on a buyout basis, and all forms of television including without limitation free, pay, and basic origination television, whether programming is transmitted by over-the-air broadcast, microwave, cable, closed circuit or direct broadcast satellite or by any other means now known or hereafter devised, PROVIDED that such television exhibitors have valid performance licenses from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (“ASCAP”), Broadcast Music, Inc. (“BMI”), and/or other applicable performing rights societies (“PROs”) acting on behalf of Licensor, as the case may be.]
              (ii) The exhibition or performance of the Program in countries or regions outside of the U.S. shall be subject to clearance by PROs in accordance with their customary practices and the payment of their customary fees.”

        2. It’s hard to find anyone at BMI who even knows about this but there is a rep at the Nashville office who does know. I have spoken with her a number of times over the last 8 months (just last week in fact) and according to her they are very close. As she said, ” there are a lot of lawyers involved”. She also mentioned it is not their longest running negotiation but they do eventually get settled. I do know that I have gotten settlements from BMI in the past on music I had totally forgotten about. I’ve had music running for 5 years on Scripps so hopefully a nice fat check awaits!

          1. Good luck with that Art, and all who share that scenario…I’ve been a C.O.D. guy for so long that the notion of waiting 5 years to get paid is on odd one to say the least, even if that is the nature of the beast;)

              1. I hope so, Art. I had a similar situation with a small cable station in NYC that was airing a TV series for which I wrote the music, much of it featured songs. It ran nine years with no accounting to ASCAP. When the issue was finally resolved I received a check for 6 figures.

                It’s just a shame that composers have to constantly monitor activity for their music. You waste so much time chasing down your money.

                1. Yeah, its sort of screwed that the PROs supposed to be getting us our money (at a price to us) and are collecting the pools of it, don’t feel inclined to get thier hands too dirty doing it. I had a song that unbeknownst to me, had been on a local station’s show ID for a decade and played EVERY DAY. I didn’t have my head in that place when it was first aired and know one told me about the usage till a friend reported back. Now when I’, in that mind frame, the station switched hands and of course if you don’t dispute your royalties within 6 months they claim tough S on you then. I’d like my 10 years worth of royalties now please…fat chance;)

                2. ASCAP…
                  I guess that the way I phrased that mighta made me sound bitter over it, and I’m not, water under the bridge of sighs, That’s just my general frustration over how weird and amorphously extortionist on one end and and unhelpful (at least ASCAP) is, on the other.
                  Is it the same for the other PROs?
                  I mean, my statements say right on them : if you want to dispute the statement you got 60 days or forever hold your peace. How does that help anyone when people don’t file cue sheets and ASCAP makes you go on an Easter egg hunt to find your own placements and administer every aspect of your job AND their job…ugh…just a rant…sorry…gotta go make music now;)

                3. ASCAP can be really bad. They tend to take care of the bigger song guys and ignore background music guys. I had a :60 national commercial for a major kids character on Nick a few years ago. It ran 15 times a day for quite a while. When I received my ASCAP statement, that tune was nowhere to be found. I wasn’t surprised, considering how many times this happens. But what was infuriating was the attitude I received from member services. They told me that Viacom didn’t include that piece of music in their cue sheets. So I politely said to the rep, “Isn’t it ASCAP’s job to pursue this?” And the answer was, “Sorry, there’s nothing we can do?” Excuse me? Nothing you can do? I was stunned. Total BS, but how do you fight this kind of irresponsibility and indifference?

                  I don’t know if BMI or SESAC is any better but the idea of switching PROs after so many years and a huge catalog of tunes would create even bigger problems and confusion.

                4. I’ve been with BMI for over 30 years and was thinking about switching to ASCAP recently. Mainly because Paul Williams was just elected president. Paul and I go back a long way and he’s a great guy. I played guitar for him for many years and consider him a friend.

                  Paul was kind enough to set up an interview for me with one of the head guys and I did consider making the switch. But I got a real education about the PROs (and ASCAP in particular) over on the FMPro list. A number of composers on that list have been fighting battles with ASCAP for many years. One of the main complaints is that a one minute custom instrumental score cue for film or TV is paid by ASCAP only 20% of what a one minute song cue is paid, even if the song is buried in the background of a scene. Also, ASCAP’s licenses with the broadcasters make no reference to song or score in determining license fees. The lack of transparency and cavalier attitude towards composers over songwriters, are other complaints heard on the list. For those reasons I decided to stay with BMI. Is BMI any better? I really don’t know but one longtime ASCAP member on that list (who I respect and is very knowledgeable about this subject) did finally switch to BMI.

                5. WOW..sorry to hear that story , but it sound like my assessment of ASCAP was right. I think I’m gonna look into BMI. I’m at as convenient time as ever to switch if its worth it (and not some ‘havin to pass through the kung fu halls of hell and fight your way out’ kind of scenario;).
                  I’ve recovered full publishing rights on some of my material so they need to be re-registered anyhow and I’m sick of feeding already successful stars and ASCAP executives with my humble (but nonetheless mine) performance royalties…I just don’t know if BMI or SESAC are any better either.

                6. Thanks so much for that Art and all…good solid info is hard to find…I was playing in a rock band when I first signed on with ASCAP…WTF did I know then, not that the ASCAP was exactly the same then as now;)
                  I might sound like the Dudley Doright of the music business, but is it really that hard for people to play fair and do their job…we don’t get cut that kind of slack as composers!…Imagine that conversation w/ASCAP above turned around with a director:
                  Director: So there were 4 music cues missing on that last reel.
                  Composer: Yeah, I don’t know where those tracks went.
                  Director: But isn’t it your job to make sure all the tracks are cut to pic and in their proper places?
                  Composer: Yeah, sorry, nothin’ I can do.
                  NOT GONNA FLY…EVER, and I wouldn’t want it to…
                  I like doing my job well!
                  Hey has anyone here actually switched or know if the process is a run around?
                  Thanks to all for the insights.

                7. I’ve heard some good things about SESAC. The owner of one of the major libraries once told me that he’d be much happier if all his writers were SESAC members. They pay more and they pay faster. The point is, they pay.

                  A buddy of mine wrote a bunch of cues for a very popular cable series which has since gone worldwide syndication, playing 7 days a week. He was a member of ASCAP and never received a dime for all that airplay. It was the usual excuses why they didn’t pay – not picked up in the survey, missing cue sheets, can you give us more information, etc. He pulled all his music and joined SESAC and since then has received a steady flow of royalties from the same series for which ASCAP was paying nothing. Pretty telling. If you’re ready to make a change it would be worth talking to SESAC.

        3. You have to provide an ad promo form to ascap with the ad agency giving you the sheet of stations buys –the airtimes dates and ID Spot number the ad agency gives it.
          Same thing for BMI–

          its a wicked game but YOU MUST play it to get paid.

          And any production-FILM or TV– a cue sheet COPY should be sent to their TV/Film Dept and also be sure the SONG itself is registered under a solo title to you-the cue sheet will match it-(unless youve retitled the songs).
          Hope this helps

          see ascap or bmi sites re-INFO for registering PROMO spots!

        1. When I was considering switching to ASCAP Shawn LeMone led me to believe that they had a deal with Scripps. Don’t know if that’s true. I’m still waiting for BMI to make their deal, sigh…

          1. I spoke with Doug Wood, who is on ASCAP’s Board of Directors to get the answer. He said the following:

            “ASCAP has had an agreement with Scripps since 2007.

            As far as I know, Scripps requires all program producers for Food Network, HGTV, DIY, Great American Country and Fine Living to clear all music rights at the source, including features, themes and backgrounds. Some are licensed directly from libraries, others are licensed from composers under WFH agreements.

            Presumably the PRO license is an insurance policy for the occasional usage that’s not licensed directly.

            I don’t have any details of the BMI license; if you do, please send them along.”

            I hope that answers the ASCAP/Scripps question.


            1. This is great information regarding the SCRIPPS issue. However, it still makes me wonder whether or not I will receive royalties on my HGTV tracks that are used.

              Has anyone on here received HGTV royalties since 2007?

              1. I think it depends on whether your tracks came from a library, or whether you licensed them directly –as a writer for hire.

                1. It depends on your deal. As a WFH, you are generally giving up your copyright, unless you structure a different deal.

                  I’ve been “hired” to score films, where there wasn’t a lot of money. In that situation, I licensed the music to the client, with the understanding that I retain all rights.

                2. And as I look at the contracts and see the copyright gone, so too goes the writers share. I assumed, although alot of my work was for Scripps and therefore was going to collect no royalties, that if there were backend monies (eventually), I would still get the writers share. Ouch.

                3. I like to say that the good thing about going to law school was that I can tell how badly they’re trying to screw me when I read a contract.

                4. Thanks for your insights MichaelL. Now I’m just going to sit quietly with this pitcher of martinis…..

                5. The WFH that I did gave me the right to re-use as long as I re-title. I also retain the writer’s share of the PRO income. Now if BMI would just make that deal with Scripps!

                6. always GET THIS IN YOUR CONTRACT..

                  notwithstanding the foregoing the writer shall be entitled to receive 100% of their share of the writers airplay performances of the compositions use for the productions broadcast’s which will be paid to the writer directly thru their performance rights society (ASCAP/BMI)..

                  any verbal agreement on retaining your writers AIRPLAY just wont work!

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