A performing rights organization (PRO) is a company that collects performance royalties and pays them to the Songwriter and Publisher. Any Publisher or Songwriter can register with a PRO and start collecting royalties owed to them (after the PRO takes their fee).
These companies collect royalties for “public performances,” which includes songs that are:
- Played live (including your own performances)
- Streamed in a public place (in a brewery, a retail store, a restaurant, etc.)
- Used in a TV show or commercial
- Used in a video game or film
- Played on the radio
There are millions of musicians and artists in the United States, so how do they collect all those royalties?
Cue sheets, that’s how.
A cue sheet is a document that outlines the songs used, how much of the song was played, when it was used, by whom, and other info needed to credit the artist. The place using your song (i.e. the TV or film company, restaurant, music venue) must complete these cue sheets and send them to the PRO.
The two biggest PROs in the U.S. are ASCAP and BMI.