Recommended Reading, Industry Insight, Resource

Switching Your Performing Rights Organization: What To Consider

Songtrust Staff
Songtrust Staff on Jul 25, 2018

DISCLAIMER: Before you even consider this, please know this is a very major decision.

It may have extremely adverse effects on your payments (and your cash flow) from the society for years to come.

When switching to a new PRO, you will almost certainly lose money and you may not earn as much money at your new PRO depending on what kind of performances you are receiving. If you rely on the cash from your PRO to pay your bills and do not have backup income, this can be a very financially irresponsible decision.

Ways You Can Lose Money:

  • Your PRO may have a higher or lower rate for Broadcast TV rather than Radio, if you are rely heavily on one or the other you may end up with less money
  • Music Supervisors often use PRO databases as their first port of call for researching who owns what copyrights, you could theoretically miss out on a sync due to this (then again, if they were very motivated to find you they would probably just ask your co-writers).

Things To Consider:

These are all dependent on the PRO with which you’re affiliated

  • Membership Terms: When you affiliated with your PRO, you agreed to their membership terms. These likely included a minimum amount of time, typically one to five years, that you agree to be affiliated with them before you can switch to another society.  This can also depend on the number of songs you’ve registered with them, when you registered those songs, and how much money those songs are making.

  • Delay In Song Registration: Additionally, you may be able to switch your affiliation, but your old society will continue to license the songs you’ve already registered with them for a period of time before you can switch those over to your new society.

  • Membership Fees: Some societies charge a small affiliation fee, while others don’t.  You may have to pay to sign up with a new PRO.

  • Delays In Payment: When you switch your society, there will likely be a delay in your royalty payments, as your new PRO processes all of your information and songs, new licenses are executed, and licensees switch their payees.

  • Foreign Collection: Payments from foreign societies may be coming into your society at a very delayed pace, these ‘in flight’ (e.g. coming in the next quarter or two) payments are likely to be lost through bureaucracy or will take 3-4 years to untangle, if at all possible.

Things That Might Prevent You From Switching:

  • If you have an advance, you will likely be unable to switch until you’ve recouped and/or your term is up.
  • If you have an unrecouped adjustment, you may not be able to leave without paying it back.

Making The Decision To Resign From Your PRO:

If you’ve given it thought and understand what might happen, and have made the decision to leave your performing rights organization, prepare yourself to do some work - it may not be as easy as saying you want to resign. Use the guide below to help you get started:

  1. Go to your PRO*’s website and familiarize yourself with the rules for resignation from that society - each PRO differs, some may ask for a simple request on their platform, like ASCAP, while others may ask for a signed letter stating your request, like BMI. SESAC has not published its rules (and is invite only) so presumably you'll need to get in touch with your representative.
  2. Get in contact with your PRO - it’s best practice to confirm the resignation process before initiating the request. Find their contact information and talk to their office to make sure you have all the information you need.
  3. Have a plan - make sure you know how you might pay your bills in the meantime, and which PRO you want to move to. Don’t go into this blindly, be prepared and have a course of action.
  4. Get in touch with your publisher - discuss the options with them and alert them of your upcoming change.If you have Songtrust, reach out to or use the live chat support on your account - you never know, maybe we can help.

*This article is primarily written for writers affiliated with US performing rights organizations, each PRO will have different rules and policies and your milage(or kilometers) may vary.


Whatever decision you make, Songtrust can help you get affiliated and register your songs with your chosen PRO. If you are unsure of what next steps to take, reach out to us at and we'll see what we can do to help you through the process.

To make sure you're collecting all your publishing performance and mechanical royalties globally, register with Songtrust today and don't leave any money on the table!

Related Articles

The World of Music Publishing Royalties: Webinar Recap

Throughout November and December, we held a webinar series revolving around The World of Music Publishing Royalties. Over the course of five sessions, hosted by Songtrust's own Noelle Gambuti and Elizabeth McBride, Publishing Specialists, and various special guests, we dove into the major themes of music publishing royalties. We covered topics from the types of royalties your song can earn you to specialized royalties like YouTube and streaming royalties. The turnout was tremendous and those that attended asked a lot of excellent questions.

Dec 13, 2018

How to Get The Most Out of Your Soundcloud Account

Soundcloud has become a critical tool for any songwriter or musician who wants to reach an audience of potential fans – but it isn’t as easy to do as simply pushing a button. As the largest online music community, Soundcloud affords an independent music maker a significant platform, but one that’s crowded with thousands and thousands of other artists, too. Here are some important steps to keep in mind when using Soundcloud to make sure your work stands out and finds the receptive audience you want.

Dec 11, 2018

Retirement Planning for Songwriters

As a songwriter, retirement isn’t exactly at the forefront of your mind - finishing your song, setting up that next gig, and getting new equipment is more likely. However, retirement is ultimately still a top financial goal that you should be working toward.

While it may be the furthest goal out, any good financial plan starts with calculating how much money you’ll need to live on during your retirement years (aka your golden years), putting a strategy in place to get there, and then addressing your shorter-term needs, like upgrading your equipment or booking studio space. Many financial professionals believe you’ll need approximately 80 percent of your peak pre-retirement income to maintain your current lifestyle in retirement - seems like a lot right?

Dec 4, 2018