Performing Rights Organizations, sometimes called Rights Societies, are organizations with members that consist of Composers, Authors and Publishers. These Performing Rights Organizations are mainly involved in the collection of royalties for Public Performance Rights and distribution of payments collected to its members.
In the United States there are three Performing Rights Organizations:
ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publisher): According to the ASCAP website, ” We are the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), a membership association of more than 470,000 US composers, songwriters, lyricists and music publishers of every kind of music. Through agreements with affiliated international societies, we also represent hundreds of thousands of music creators worldwide. We are the only US performing rights organization created and controlled by composers, songwriters and music publishers, with a Board of Directors elected by and from our membership. We protect the rights of ASCAP members by licensing and distributing royalties for the non-dramatic public performances of their copyrighted works. Our licensees encompass all who want to perform copyrighted music publicly. We make giving and obtaining permission to perform music simple for both creators and music users.”
BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.): According to the BMI website, “BMI was founded in 1939 by forward-thinkers who wanted to represent songwriters in emerging genres, like jazz, blues and country, and protect the public performances of their music. Operating on a non-profit-making basis, BMI is now the largest music rights organization in the U.S. and is still nurturing new talent and new music. BMI is the bridge between songwriters and the businesses and organizations that want to play their music publicly. As a global leader in music rights management, BMI serves as an advocate for the value of music, representing more than 8.5 million musical works created and owned by more than 600,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers.”
SESAC (Society of European Stage Authors and Composers): According to the SESAC website, “SESAC was founded in 1930 to serve European composers not adequately represented in the United States. Though the company name was once an acronym, today it is simply SESAC and not an abbreviation of anything. With an international reach and a vast repertory that spans virtually every genre of music, SESAC is the fastest growing and most technologically adept of the nation’s performing rights companies.”