Copyrights, Licensing, And Royalties: A Fact Sheet

copyright-office The US Copyright Office and the House of Representatives are currently considering an overhaul of some of the copyright regulation that governs musical licensing. Here are some quick facts on the current state of music licensing. Performance Royalties are the fees music users pay when music is performed publicly. Music played over the radio, in a restaurant or bar, or over a service like Spotify or Pandora is considered a public performance.

  • Performance Rights Organizations or PROs (in the US that’s BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC) collect songwriting performance royalties from music users, and then pay songwriters and rights holders (publishers).
  • Like BMI and ASCAP, Soundexchange collects recording performance royalties to recording artists and labels whenever a music is performed publicly -- but only for digital performances.
  • That’s because copyright regulation as it stands means terrestrial broadcasters (AM/FM radio) pay performance royalties to songwriters, but not the recording artists.
  • Digital performances (for example, Pandora) pay a recording digital performance royalty to Soundexchange and a songwriting digital performance royalty to the PROs.
  • But on the flip-side, BMI and ASCAP are governed by consent decrees, which means an arm of the US Judicial Branch (called a “rate-court”) can set the rates (per radio play, per stream, etc.). BMI and ASCAP collect for songwriting performance royalties. In exchange for the right to collect on behalf... Sign In to Keep Reading

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