Performance Rights Organizations
Performance royalties provide a huge portion of many songwriters’ income. In many cases, the writer of a hit song may make more money from performance income than from mechanical royalties. This is particularly the case of a hit song which receives massive airplay, but does not generate equivalent single or album sales.
Performance income can also be very important to writers who place their songs in TV shows. Income can be lucrative for writers who can consistently place songs in TV shows, particularly shows airing in prime time, or place songs in series which have numerous reruns. There are many writers who have built prosperous careers in this manner.
There are three, established performance rights organizations: ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. ASCAP and BMI are the most dominant, although SESAC has been making inroads. Publishers and songwriters have steadily debated the merits of these organizations, particularly BMI and ASCAP. The debates usually are not about the quality of the executives who represent each organization (all three have excellent representatives), but about which organization pays the best royalties. The debate continues, with ASCAP and BMI representing a fairly equal number of the most successful hit songwriters.
Here are some key links to all three organizations: