Wednesday, July 9, 2008

ASCAP or BMI (Recording)

There are several conspiracy theories why you should/shouldn't affiliate with a performing rights organization (PRO), and whether ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, or some other PRO is the choice to go. We're not doing that here. At Chord du Jour, we suggest that if you want some support from the establishment (i.e., royalties from broadcast and various other public performances of your work), you might want to consider affiliating as a songwriter and/or a publishing company. (Please keep in mind this post is just base knowledge and should not be taken as legal advice. Read the book mentioned in yesterday's post for better information.)

To be clear, an ASCAP-affiliated publisher can only publish songs by ASCAP-affiliated songwriters, BMI publishers for BMI songwriters, etc. - BUT - ASCAP and BMI songwriters can collaborate, as long as their respective publishers are also involved.

Typically, songwriters who perform their own work should self-publish and share publishing only when it makes business sense to do so. Publishers that act like middlemen are more useful for connecting songs/songwriters with outside recording artists (like pop stars who don't write - what an understatement!) and other outside interests. If you make good business choices in addition to tasteful artistic choices, you stand a chance at getting those royalties from your PRO! (No promises, though.)

Here are the current (as of July 2008) fees to apply:

ASCAP songwriter: $25 (used to be free about a year ago)
ASCAP publisher: $25 (used to be free about a year ago)

BMI songwriter: Free?
BMI publisher: $150 for sole proprietorships; $250 for corporations/limited liability companies

ASCAP and BMI focus on U.S.-based music, as other countries/regions have their own prominent PROs.

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