What Are Performance Royalties for Musicians?

When you hear the term “performance royalties,” you may think that these royalties come from someone playing your music live in a public setting. Although this is true, it’s only part of performance royalties. There is much more to them. Performance royalties are also generated by digital streaming, radio broadcasting, TV broadcasting, movies, and more. In this article, we’re going to give you more information on performance royalties so that you will know everything you need to know about them and will be able to start collecting your own performance royalties.

Performance Royalties Explained

For every piece of music, there are two different types of copyright: 1) publishing rights and 2) master rights. When a songwriter writes a song and then publishes it, the writer gets a publishing copyright that covers the song’s structure, melody, lyrics, chords, etc. On the other side are the master rights. When a singer or musician makes a “recording” of a song, that recording gets a master copyright. The recording artist usually owns the copyright. Any time someone else uses that particular recording of the song, the master copyright owner receives royalties. A song can have many recorded versions by different artists; each of those artists has their master copyright of the recording.

One of the royalties that songwriters can get from a master copyright is performance royalties. Performance royalties are paid to songwriters whenever a recorded version of their song is played in a public environment. Public environments include live performances in places like bars, restaurants, and stores; radio broadcasts; TV broadcasts; background of movies or TV shows; and interactive digital streams. We’ll go more into each of these later on in this article.

How are Performance Royalties Collected?

If a person or venue wants to use a musician’s song for commercial use, they must first acquire a license. It would be a monumental undertaking to have each song license approved by each artist, so users pay a blanket license to a performing rights organization (PRO).

A PRO is an organization that collects royalties on behalf of composers and publishers. The PRO distributes the earnings from public performances to their members, i.e., songwriters and publishers. PROs ensure that the proper licenses are distributed, and accurate royalties are collected and paid out.

How Do PROs Pay Artists?

To receive public performance royalties, songwriters must register with a PRO. It’s easy to register and doesn’t cost very much. Every time a song is played in a public setting, the PRO will collect and disburse royalties to the songwriter.

Top 10 PROs

There are many PROs around the world. In the United States, the top three PROs are ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC.

  1. ASCAP – United States

The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers was founded in 1914. ASCAP represents over 700k musicians and has a catalog of over 11.5 million compositions.

2. BMI – United States

Broadcast Music, Inc. was founded in 1939, represents over 800k members, and has over 15 million compositions.

3. SESAC – United States

The Society of European Stage Authors and Composers was founded in 1930 and has around 30k members. While ASCAP and BMI are non-profit, SESAC is for-profit and keeps part of the royalties it collects. Members must also be approved in order to join.

Other key PROs around the world include:

How to find a Music Publisher

You can sign up with Sugo Music Group Publishing and begin claiming all the songwriting royalties you’re owed.

You’ll receive:

– Song registrations: performing rights organizations worldwide

– Song registrations:  mechanical right collection societies

– Collections:  all performing royalties across the globe

– Collections: all mechanical royalties across the globe – Licensing: pitching your songs for sync placements and collecting sync royalties

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