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ASCAP, BMI, SESAC: The Guide to PROs

Liane Bonin Starr
Liane Bonin Starr on May 3, 2018

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Songtrust works globally to collect songwriter's composition royalties from performing rights organizations and mechanical rights societies.

Performing Rights Organizations (aka PROs) are an important part of any songwriter's career – even when a songwriter doesn't realize it. While PROs collect royalties for songwriters when their works are performed publicly, such as played on television and AM/FM airwaves, through internet radio services like Pandora, at a club, inside a restaurant, or at a concert, most organizations don't stop there. Many tackle other issues impacting their members, such as fighting music piracy and keeping up with changes to the industry that have resulted from the advent of digital music. They advocate for artists and writers in their countries or origin, too. We strongly believe that it’s important for songwriters to learn about the PROs in their territory and around the world. Here's a quick overview of just some of the biggest players in the industry:


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BMI, Broadcast Music, Inc.

Launched: 1939

Membership Size: 800,000 members

Official site: BMI.com

Twitter: @BMI

Location: Nashville, New York, Los Angeles, London, Atlanta, Miami, Puerto Rico

Mission Statement: This non-profit founded by radio executives "serves as an advocate for the value of music" and "supports its songwriters, composers and publishers by taking care of an important aspect of their careers – getting paid," according to the BMI website. They offer blanket music licenses to businesses and organizations that allow them to play nearly 13 million musical works.

Notable affiliatesMariah Carey, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Eminem, Rihanna, Maroon 5, Sam Cooke, Dolly Parton, Shakira
 

ASCAP, The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers

Launched: 1914

Membership Size: 660,000 membersASCAP_Logo_Horizontal_Black

Official siteASCAP.com

Twitter: @ASCAP

Location: New York, London, Miami, Puerto Rico, Los Angeles, Nashville, Atlanta

Mission Statement: The only American PRO created and controlled by composers, writers, and music publishers—its Board of Directors is elected by its members. “A music creator is like a small business,” reads ASCAP’s website, “and we exist to ensure that ASCAP members are paid promptly and fairly when their compositions are performed publicly.”

Notable affiliatesJustin Timberlake, Vampire Weekend, Duke Ellington, Dave Matthews, George Gershwin, Stevie Wonder, Beyonce, Marc Anthony 


SESAC

Launched: 1930

Membership Size: 30,000 membersSESAC-logo

Official site: SESAC.com

Twitter: @SESAC

Location: New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Miami, London, Nashville

Mission Statement: The only PRO in the U.S. that is not open to all songwriters, SESAC is invitation-only. “With an international reach and a vast repertory that spans virtually every genre of music, SESAC is the fastest growing and most technologically adept of the nation’s performing rights companies,” reads the SESAC site. Note: the SESAC abbreviation is, today, meaningless; the organization was originally founded to serve European composers underrepresented in America before branching out to become a full service PRO.

Notable affiliatesBob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Young Love, Rapture, Adele

SOCAN, Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada 

Launched: 1997

Membership Size: nearly 150,000 memberssocanlogo

Official site: SOCAN.ca

Twitter: @SOCANmusic

Location: Canada

Mission Statement: Using progressive technology and a commitment to lead the global transformation of music rights, SOCAN is dedicated to upholding the fundamental truths that music has value and music creators and publishers deserve fair compensation for their work.

Notable affiliatesBrian Howes, Jason Van Poederooyen


APRA AMCOS

Launched: 1926

apra-amcos

Membership Size: 95,000

Official site: APRAAMCOS.com.au

Twitter: @APRAMCOS

Location: New Zealand

Mission Statement: When Australian and New Zealand songs and compositions are performed overseas, APRA AMCOS ensures the writers get paid. APRA AMCOS also helps music customers in Australia and New Zealand access music from the rest of the world and advocates on behalf of music creators' rights and the Australasian music industry locally, nationally and internationally. The organization is an alliance between two organizations – APRA (Australasian Performing Right Association Limited) and AMCOS (Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society Limited) – in response to feedback from music creators and customers that they'd prefer to deal with one organization.

Notable affiliatesLorde; Opetaia Foa’i (composer of 'Moana' soundtrack) ; Harry Vanda; Sia ; Daniel Forster; Delta Goodrem

 

GEMA, Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführungs- und mechanische Vervielfältigungsrechte 

Launched: 1933

Membership Size: 70,000 membersgema-logo

Official site: GEMA.de

Twitter: @gema_news

Location: Germany

Mission Statement: GEMA is the only organization representing usage rights stemming from authors' rights, such as mechanical licensing, broadcast licensing, and synchronization licensing, in Germany.

Notable affiliatesKathrin A. Denner, Lina Maly, Daily Thompson

 

PRS for Music Limited

Launched: 1914

Membership Size: 125,000 membersPRS-for-Music-logo

Official site: PRSforMusic.com

Twitter: @PRSforMusic

Location: UK, British Virgin Islands, Gambia, Maldives, Malta, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua-New Guinea, Samoa, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Uganda

Mission Statement: A UK organization, PRS for Music is the merger of the Performing Right Society (PRS) and the Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society (MCPS). PRS collects when its members' works are performed or communicated to the public. MCPS collects for mechanical uses.

Notable affiliatesImogen Heap

 

PPL PRS Ltd

Launched: 2018

Official Site: PPLPRS.co.ukPPLPRS_Core_Logo_RGB_Orange_150px

Twitter: @pplprs

Mission Statement: PPL and PRS for Music, while two separate and independent companies in the UK, created PPL PRS Ltd in February of 2018. This joint venture, TheMusicLicense, combines the two societies’ public performance licensing activities. However, PPL and PRS for Music are otherwise separate, independent companies representing different rights holders and have separate licenses, terms, and conditions.

 

PPL, Phonographic Performance Limited

Launched: 1934

Membership Size: 65,000 membersnew_5687684__website-ppl-square

Official site: PPLUK.com

Twitter: @PPLUK

Mission Statement: PPL licenses TV and radio broadcasters in the United Kingdom to play recorded music as part of their programming, from the BBC, ITV, Channel4, Five and Sky to commercial radio networks such as Capital, Heart and Absolute Radio, as well as online services. PPL also licenses music suppliers to copy recorded music for services such as in-store music systems, jukeboxes, compilations for exercise classes and in-flight entertainment systems.

 

SACEM, Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers of Music

Launched: 1851

Membership Size: 161,000

Official Site: sacem.fr/enSacem_logo_vertical_CMJN

Twitter: @sacem

Location: France, Andorra, Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Egypt, French Austral Islands, Guadeloupe, Guinea, Guyana, Ivory Coast, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Martinique, Mayotte, Monaco, Morocco, Niger, Polynesia, Reuinion, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Senegal, Togo

Mission Statement: The Society of Authors, Composer and Publishers of Music (SACEM) is a non-profit non-trading entity owned and managed by its members. SACEM collects and distributes royalties on behalf of its clients, thus guaranteeing the authors’ intellectual property rights over their works. SACEM plays a crucial economic role in preserving musical creation and public use in France.

Notable affiliatesWarner Chappell Music France; Ultra Music Publishing Europe

 

KODA

Launched: 1935

Membership Size: 45,000KODA logo 2012

Official Site: https://www.koda.dk/eng

Twitter: @koda_dk

Location: Denmark, Faroe Islands, Greenland

Mission Statement: Koda is a non-profit collective rights management society that administers Danish and international copyrights for music creators and publishers, when their music is performed in public. Koda represents approximately 45,000 Danish composers, songwriters and music publishers. Through reciprocal contracts with rights societies in more than 180 countries, Koda offers the entire world repertoire of music in one single agreement.

Notable affiliatesAgnes Obel; Andrea Valbak (Medina); Maria Apetri (Fallulah); Emmelie De Forest; Anne Linnet 


SACM, The Society of Authors and Composers of Mexico

Launched: 1945

Membership Size: 30,000

Official Site: http://www.sacm.org.mx download

Twitter: @SACM_Oficial

Location: Mexico

Mission Statement: The Society of Authors and Composers of Mexico (SACM) is a non-profit collective management company created to strengthen the link between music users and composers. SACM promotes a new musical culture in Mexico that includes the recognition of musical copyright, and jointly seeks, with the society and the government of Mexico, the due protection of intellectual works as an important part of the cultural heritage of the nation and as an essential element of Mexico’s cultural identity. SACM believes that the work of composers is a profession worthy of protection.

Notable affiliatesChristian Nodal; Jose Alfredo Jimenez Galves; Armando Manzanero

 

BUMA/STEMRA

Launched: 1913

Membership Size: 23,000 

BumaStemra

Official Site: https://www.bumastemra.nl/en/

Twitter: @bumastemra

Location: Netherlands, Aruba, Bonaire, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Martin, Suriname

Mission Statement: Around 25,000 composers, lyricists and authors are affiliated to Buma/Stemra. Buma/Stemra ensures that when their creations are used they receive fair remuneration. Buma/Stemra collects these remunerations in other countries around the world via sister organisations. Buma/Stemra also covers the global music repertoire in the Netherlands and collects remuneration for use on behalf of foreign composers, lyricists and authors and transfers this to sister organisations. Buma/Stemra represents the interests of music authors. We see that in much broader terms than just collecting and distributing the remunerations. We help enforce copyright, on occasion alongside other organisations. In addition, Buma sets aside a reserve for financial support to our members and for promoting Dutch musical products.

Notable affiliatesGus Meeuwis, Jett Rebel


There are many, many more PROs around the world, this is just a small set. Learn more about how Songtrust can help you affiliate with your PROs and set up an account to start collecting all your global royalties!

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