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

Then & Now: Synthpop

Ah, synthpop. Now there’s a word that rolls off the tongue like “soft-serve,” or any other sweet confection of days gone by. A guilty pleasure, a bit of cotton-candy for the ears, and a musical genre many thought—or sometimes hoped—was relegated to the dustbin of history.

Oct 16, 2018

Songtrust: The Music Modernization Act and You

Though they may not grab the same headlines that SCOTUS, the 2018 midterms and #MeToo so rightly do, there have been massive and historic changes in the music business this year. Three separate but related pieces of legislation—the Music Modernization Act here in the United States plus significant copyright reforms both in the US and the EU—are poised to alter the financial landscape for the better for artists, songwriters and publishers. After many long, lean and frustrating years for many in the music business, a sensible and up-to-date framework for managing the complicated business of music rights is finally coming into view.

Oct 11, 2018

Industry Spotlight: HeadCount

FOUNDED IN 2004, HeadCount is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization dedicated to voter registration and voter engagement. Working with a small core staff and a national network of volunteers, they hold voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives at music festivals, concerts, and cultural events nationwide.

Their work focuses on advancing participation in the democratic process by going directly to new and young voters to educate them on upcoming deadlines and elections, as well as registering them if they are not currently on the voter rolls in their states. HeadCount has registered more than 500,000 individuals to vote through their work at live music events and cultural gatherings. Additionally, HeadCount is partnered with March For Our Lives, having served as the lead voter registration organizer for the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students’ nationwide bus tour. This summer, HeadCount also organized voter registration efforts on summer concert tours including Jay-Z and Beyonce; Macklemore and Kesha; Dave Matthews Band; the Vans Warped Tour; and many other musical artists.

They are now focused on get-out-the-vote initiatives, as many states have already begun their early voting periods for the 2018 midterm elections.

Oct 10, 2018