Music 101, Platinum Articles

Do you know the difference between ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, Music Reports or Sound Exchange?

Hey Y’all!

It’s Your Gyrl, Ms. Carmen aka Platinum Voice PR bringing another relevant topic to you!

ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC are United States Performing Rights Organizations (PROs). Effectively, they all do the same thing. PROs issue blanket licenses to music broadcasters, such as television and radio stations, auditoriums, larger restaurants and clubs, hotels, or theme parks.

Basically, they are issued to anyone who plays music in a public manner. By paying the blanket license fees to the PROs, these broadcasters are able to use whatever music they want without having to account to each individual songwriter. The blanket license fee’s amount is based on broadcast reach; a large commercial radio station pays a higher blanket license fee than a small bookstore, but both pay.

The PROs keep track of the music that is being used through playlists at radio stations, cue sheets on television, and by sampling, for other types of users—such as polling restaurants and bars to determine what music they are playing. They pay royalties to writers based on the number of times an affiliated songwriter’s music is used.

You affiliate with one (and only one) of the PROs so that they will be able to find you and send you performance royalty checks. The affiliation process is easy. There may be an inexpensive, one-time affiliation fee, but once you’re affiliated, there is no cost to register as many songs as you write at no further cost. Check out each PRO, choose one, and affiliate. They all do the same thing, as far as getting you paid goes, and neither is better than the other two, though their additional benefits and services vary.

Please note that PROs are not publishers. Registering your songs with them does not mean you have a publishing deal. PROs simply monitor the public use of copyrights and facilitate royalty payment for these uses.


SoundExchange is a non-profit performance rights organization that collects statutory royalties from satellite radio (such as SIRIUS XM), Internet radio (like Pandora), cable TV music channels and similar platforms for streaming sound recordings. The Copyright Royalty Board, which is appointed by The U.S. Library of Congress, has entrusted SoundExchange as the sole entity in the United States to collect and distribute these digital performance royalties for featured and non-featured recording artists, master rights owners (usually record labels), and independent artists who record and own their masters.

The royalties that SoundExchange collects and distributes are for the featured artist and the sound recording copyright owner. ASCAP, BMI and SESAC collect and distribute royalties for the songwriter, composer and publisher. Both satellite radio providers and webcasters pay SoundExchange when they stream music due to their use of the statutory license.

Get paid when you get played

If you are a featured recording artist or a sound recording copyright owner (SRCO), producer or creative contributor, you may have earned digital performance royalties for the use of sound recordings you own or on which you performed. Artists and SRCOs should register with SoundExchange as soon as possible, even if you’re a member of another performance rights organization, as only SoundExchange can provide digital royalties. Registration is fast and always free. Copyright holders and featured artists (generally, the most visible person, in print or image, on the physical package of a recording) are paid through SoundExchange. Session players and back-up musicians are paid from a separate royalty fund. Register HERE for Soundexchange.

How does royalties work?

Artists receive royalties in a number of ways depending upon what connection to the song they have. For instance, an artist who performs a song on a record but did not write the song, receives one type of royalty, while the writer of the song (even though she didn’t perform it on the record) receives a different type of royalty.

The royalties that artist’s might receive are as follows:

1. Mechanical Royalties – paid by the person/company who releases a record/download (typically a label) to the writer of the song, whether the writer performed the song or not.

2. Artist/Record Royalties – paid by the person/company who releases a record/download (typically a label) to the performer of the song, whether the performer wrote the song or not.

3. Performance Royalties – paid to the songwriter by Performance Rights Organizations (ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC) from fees these Performance Rights Organizations collect from broadcasters such as radio and television stations for the rights to broadcast copyrighted material.

4. Synchronization Royalties – paid to the songwriter by a producer of a movie, TV show, or ad for the right to use the songwriter’s music in their movie, TV show, or ad.

The amount of these royalties is determined differently depending on the type of royalty. The article “Royalty Streams” details all the different types of royalties, and how they are calculated.

Here is the info for the PROs:


One Lincoln Plaza

New York, NY 10023



320 West 57th Street

New York, NY 10019-3790



55 Music Square East

Nashville, TN 37203



Customer Care/Account Services Phone: 202-640-5858
Fax: 202-640-5859

733 10th Street NW
10th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20001
Artists/Rights Holder Questions, Account inquiries, Customer Care

Phone: 202-640-5858

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(PlatinumVoicePR is the source for the events and has no legal bindings with associated parties)

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