Royalties are extremely important to any Artist seeking to earn income. In order to receive your royalties as an artist, you must register with a Performing Rights Organization. But, what exactly do these organizations do? And how do you choose which Performing Rights Organization is best for you? We discuss what you need to know in order to begin receiving your royalty income!

What are Performing Rights Organizations?

Performing Rights Organizations (PROs)– also known as Performing Rights Society– are tasked with distributing royalties to the music publisher and artist when a song has been publicly performed. 

These include malls, diners, and radio stations. Though, in the US only terrestrial and digital stations must pay. Terrestrial radio stations are exempt.

The type of royalties PROs typically handle are called performance royalties

What are Performance Royalties?

Performance Royalties are royalties paid out when a song has been performed to the public. 

How do PROs Work?

PROs give licenses to radio stations and any entity that wishes to play music in public. In turn, the entities make their payments out the performing rights organizations. These PROs are then tasked with distributing the payments between all copyright holders (who are usually the Artists). 


Some of the most notable PROs in the music industry include ASCAP, SESAC, and BMI. While they are all tasked with the same duties, we discuss the key differences between the three of them. 


The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, is a non-profit organization. The second largest PRO, ASCAP requires a $50 fee for any songwriter who wishes to sign up with them. Publishers wishing to join ASCAP must also pay a $50 fee. Some of the perks of joining ASCAP include:

  • Access to marketing tools
  • US Alliance Federal Credit Union membership
  • Discounts on hotels and rentals


Unlike ASCAP, SESAC is a for-profit PRO. Of the three, SESAC is also the only PRO that requires an invitation. Because of this, it is the smallest PRO of the three. As a SESAC member you will enjoy perks such as:

  • Discounts on MusicPro insurance
  • Discounts on Airport parking 
  • Direct Deposit 


Broadcast Music Inc. the largest PRO in the industry is also a non-profit organization. Unlike ASCAP, BMI does not require a fee to join as a songwriter. Publishers must pay a fee of $150 to join. Some of the perks of joining BMI include

  • Access to workshops and camps for songwriters 
  • Discounts to a variety of songwriting tools

The Bottom Line

It is highly important that all artists who seek to receive royalties be signed up with a PRO company. As artists sign up, they must always remember to register as both a writer and publisher if they are writing, recording, and releasing on their own. 

This is just one of the many steps in becoming an artist. We know it can be daunting. It is why we created Acuinas. We believe in aiding all artists who seek to build their career on their own terms. Apply now and become a part of the Acuinas Network, where we will match you with all the resources you need.