Registering with a Performance Rights Organisation (PRO)

Performance Rights Organisations

A Performance Rights Organisation (PRO), also known as a performing rights society, provides several services, but primarily exists for the collection of royalties, between copyright holders (composers) and parties who wish to use copyrighted works publicly in locations such as shopping and dining venues.

In short, PRO’s collect and distribute the royalties your music earns on TV, radio and live performance. This is over and above the income you generate from upfront sales.

Who pays royalties?

Many music buyers are put off by PRO registered music, because they think that they pay royalties to the composer.

This is incorrect, it’s the TV/radio networks that pay, or the venue playing your tracks must have a PRO license.

Do I have to register with a ‘PRO’?

If you’re serious about making money in the production music industry, then yes. If you don’t, you’re potentially losing out on a secondary income stream. One of your tracks is picked up by a major TV network, additional earnings can be significant.

Exclusive libraries will also require you to be PRO registered, as they will also take their share of generated royalties.

Not so long ago, many of the ‘royalty free’ libraries prohibited the submission of PRO registered music. That has changed significantly over the last couple of years, with all the major players relaxing their rules. Which pretty much negates the phrase ‘royalty free’.

How do I register?

Firstly, you need to find out who the PRO is in your country. Wikipedia has a list of PRO’s around the world.

Music registration is done online these days, and is a relatively quick process. Once your cue is logged on their database, they will then start monitoring for usage.

Rules and requirements vary between PRO’s, so check the fine print before signing up. Some significant points to check are:

  • Once a member, is all of your music covered, even if you haven’t registered it?
  • Are you allowed to offer ‘buyouts’ to your clients? A one off fee paid for in exchange for usage on all mediums.
  • Do they collect royalties worldwide (they should)?
  • How often to they distribute royalties to composers?

Do I register all of my music tracks myself?

If you are submitting music to an exclusive library, they should be registering tracks on your behalf. To check this is being done, you can search for your tracks on the PRO database.

Jon Wright

Jon Wright, is a composer based in London, UK. His music has featured on networks including NBC, CBS, Discovery, History, EuroSport, and the BBC.