QUESTION: I want to be a pro songwriter. So should I join a Performing Rights Organization (PRO) right now? Which one should I join- ASCAP, BMI or SESAC?
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First, let me explain (briefly) what PROs do. Performing Rights Organizations are basically collection agencies. They collect performance royalties for their songwriter and publisher members. Performance royalties come from sources including radio airplay, TV/film synch performances, live music venues, and digital sources.
If you get a hit single, it’s the PRO check you love seeing in your mailbox.
In the rest of the world, you only have the choice of one PRO in each country or territory. However, in the USA, we have 3 PROs: ASCAP, BMI and SESAC.
A songwriter can only be a member of one PRO at a time.
So, should you join one now? The short answer is “YES” – if you have cuts out there being played on the radio, in bars, in film/TV, etc. If you’re getting a decent amount of plays (or if you’re a touring act playing originals), you’re earning money – BUT NO ONE IS COLLECTING IT FOR YOU UNLESS YOU’RE A MEMBER OF A PRO. If that’s not your situation, you’re not in a hurry and I suggest you “shop” PROs patiently.
So, which PRO should you join?
Well, there will be arguments over which PRO pays the most money, which one is best for certain genres, etc. I suggest you don’t worry about that right now. After all, if you’re not making money off your music, it doesn’t really matter if one PRO pays slightly better than another.
Join the PRO where you find your champion.
I suggest trying to get meetings at each of the PROs – with different member representatives at each one. If your songs aren’t good enough, you probably won’t find a champion. Keep writing. Keep learning. Keep getting better. And keep being professional when you DO have meetings.
Eventually, if you’re friendly and professional and your songs keep getting better, you’ll find a rep who will give you more time, more feedback and may even hook you up with cowriters and/or publishers.
Join the PRO that will help you make money, not one that will ONLY collect your money.
I’ve benefitted from having a champion at my PRO. Chad Green was my ASCAP rep, and he helped me land my first publishing deal. (He’s also opened other doors for me, which you can read about with a CLICK HERE.)
Do you have more questions about PROs – what they do, how to get a meeting, or how to get a 2nd meeting? If so, I have a great opportunity for you.
On Tuesday, July11, 2017, I’m hosting an online “Know The Row” event with Senior Creative Director of Daywind Music and former ASCAP rep, Chad Green. This is YOUR chance to connect with a music industry professional and to ask him YOUR questions. With it being online, you can join us from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. If you want details, just CLICK HERE. Tickets are on sale now, and space is limited!
God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,
Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.