What Are Performing Rights?
Rights and Performing Rights Organisations.
Performing Rights are the right to perform music in public.
Performing Rights are defined in various copyright laws around
the world. Performing Rights Organisations are responsible
for administration of these rights, granting licences allowing
public performance of music, on behalf of music composers
Money collected by these Performance Rights Organisations
(PRO's) is passed on to the musicís composers and publishers,
according to which music has been performed publicly. Most
professional composers will belong to a PRO since it iss the
only way they can receive royalties when their music is used
on TV, radio and movies. Most of the Composers on this site
belong to a PRO.
How Do Performance Rights Organisations
When a business or organisation plays music in public, it
legally needs the permission of the Performing Rights owner
to broadcast that music. This will usually be the composer
and their publisher. To enable this, each country has a Performing
Rights Organisation (PRO), a society to which the composers
and publishers belong, allowing the PRO to issue licenses
to use their music. The money collected by the PRO's is eventually
forwarded to the composers and publishers, less a commission.
Performance Rights Licensing
The license issued by PRO's is usually an annual one, refrred
to as a 'blanket' license. This allows the customer to use
all of the music represented by the PRO. Since all the PRO's
worldwide are affiliated with each other and share information
freely, this effectively means nearly all music released worldwide.
The license fees are usually geared according to the audience
size. They may range from just a few dollars for a small business,
to millions for a national TV network.
With TV & Radio broadcasters, the PRO's will require them
to keep account of all the music they play. Cue Sheet is simple
a written record of this, for every broadcast. Today, most
TV and Radio netowrks will use computer-based record keping,
rather than the tradional paper cue sheet. The Performance
Rights Organistaion will then use this information to distribute
the annual license fee income amongst it's composer members,
as a large number of much smaller payments. The music's Composers
may get a few pence for their music being used on a small
radio station commercial, to many thousands for regular use
of their music on a national TV series.
Do I Pay Performance Rights for Royalty
For the royalty free music on this website and most others,
the answer depends on how you intend to use the music. As
a general rule if you are a media producer, you pay no Performance
If you are responsible for broadcasting your
new production to the public, then you may have to pay a PRO
fee, depending on the kind of project you have used the music
in, and in which country. TV networks, radio stations, all
will be paying annual PRO fees already as part of their license
to broadcast. A few local PRO's consider music in retail establishments,
music on hold, even music on a website to be a public performance,
and will want the 'broadcaster' to pay a small annual fee
(for example the owner of a retail pemises). Most PRO's generally
consider only TV and Radio for licensing, not these other
smaller uses. If you are unsure, you should ask your local
PRO for advice, we have contact details for most of them here.
Who Are Performance Rights Organisations?
In the USA the Performing Rights Organisations that issue
licenses for music broadcast are ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. In
the UK it is the PRS. Almost every country has their own society
(we have a list here),
and they are each linked to each other and share the sme computer
databases, so they are all aware of each other's musical works,
and can represent them in their own country. Almost every
professional composer will be a member of a PRO, since it
is the only way for them to be paid when their music is broadcast
on Television, radio, or movies, and can form a major part
of their income.
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