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PROs in the United States
The United States has several performing rights organizations, most notably ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) and BMI (Broadcast Music Inc). These organizations represent songwriters, composers, lyricists and publishers by granting them public performance licenses. Both ASCAP and BMI also collect royalties on behalf of their members when music is played publicly. Additionally, SESAC (formerly known as the Society of European Stage Authors & Composers) and GMR (Global Music Rights) are both US-based Performing Rights Organizations that provide similar services to their members.
ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers)
ASCAP is the largest performing rights organization in the United States and is responsible for collecting performance royalties on behalf of over 875,000 songwriters, composers, lyricists and music publishers. ASCAP licenses the public performance of its members’ musical works to businesses such as radio stations, websites, bars and restaurants.
ASCAP was founded in 1914 when a group of composers banded together to protect their copyrights and secure payment whenever their music was performed publicly. Since then, it has grown into one of the most recognizable and influential entities in the music industry. ASCAP works closely with music creators to ensure that they are fairly compensated for their work and protected from any unauthorized use or exploitation.
BMI (Broadcast Music Inc)
Broadcast Music Inc (BMI) is an American music rights organization that collects and distributes royalties, provides tailored services to its members, and advocates on behalf of music creators. Since its founding in 1939, BMI has grown to become the most widely recognized name in music rights management and royalty collection across the United States.
Throughout its history, BMI has championed the rights of songwriters, representing over 20 million musical works by over 1 million artists across all genres of music. Its diverse roster includes some of the world’s most beloved composers, performers, and songwriters including John Lennon, Billie Eilish, Paul McCartney, Elton John, and many more. Through their work, BMI promotes creativity throughout society by helping ensure that songwriters are compensated for their work.
SESAC (formerly known as the Society of European Stage Authors & Composers)
SESAC is a performing rights organization (PRO) which represents songwriters, composers, and publishers. It was originally founded as the Society of European Stage Authors & Composers (SESAC) in 1930 to protect the interests of songwriters and music creators in Europe. After expanding its operations to North America, SESAC became one of the three major U.S. PROs alongside ASCAP and BMI. SESAC is known for its streamlined process, competitive royalty rates and sign-up bonuses for new members. Throughout its history, SESAC has continued to serve as an advocate for creative rights and continues to provide support for both emerging and established songwriters, composers and publishers today.
The main difference that SESAC has over BMI and ASCAP is that it is a for-profit organization, meaning it seeks out its own members to represent, rather than relying on existing members to join its network like BMI and ASCAP. Furthermore, SESAC charges higher royalty rates than either of the other two organizations.
GMR (Global Music Rights)
Global Music Rights (GMR) is an independent U.S.-based music rights organization that licenses public performance rights on behalf of songwriters, composers, and music publishers worldwide. GMR provides songwriters with a public performance royalty for their works when they are used in the broadcast and digital space.
Established in 2013, GMR was founded by Irving Azoff and Randy Grimmett. Since its inception, GMR has grown to represent over 50,000 songs and 90 songwriters. GMR specializes in providing top-level service to independent artists and songwriters, along with personalized customer service tailored to each individual artist’s needs.
Artists covered by GMR benefit from the lack of statutory laws governing them, unlike BMI and ASCAP, which are both subject to regulations.
AllTrack is a newer entry into the PRO space. It was founded by Hayden Bower, launched in beta in 2018 and officially launched in 2019.
From their website: AllTrack is a US-based Performing Rights Organization (PRO) that issues simple, worry-free and economically efficient performing rights licenses to businesses for the unlimited use of music that is played on their premises, websites, digital properties and at their events. AllTrack’s licenses are issued on behalf of the music creators, songwriters, composers, producers, publishers and copyright holders that have appointed AllTrack as their legal representative for the licensing and collection of their performing rights royalties.