Q. Can you please explain what a cue sheet is?
A. If you license music from AudioSparx for use in a film, television program, television ad or radio ad, filing a cue sheet with the appropriate performing rights organization is a requirement. Here's everything you need to know about doing it right, and the most frequently asked questions about cue sheets.
Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) such as ASCAP and BMI license television stations and others the right to broadcast the music contained in their programming (broadcast productions). The PROs collect the license fees from networks, cable, PBS and local stations and distributes royalties to their composer and publisher members based on these performances.
In order to determine what music has been performed and which members to pay for these performances, "cue sheets" are required that list all the music contained in any particular program. These cue sheets are then matched to broadcast schedules and performances are processed so that members can receive royalties from the use of their music.
If you license music at AudioSparx for use in a film, television program, television ad or radio ad, it is imperative that you file a cue sheet with the PRO that the composer(s) and publisher(s) of the music belong to. This is typically ASCAP or BMI, or it may be an international PRO if the composer or publisher are not based in the USA.
Typically, the production company that creates the production to be broadcast is responsible for filing the cue sheet. The creation of cue sheets often stems from the composer or music editor's spotting notes or edit decision list (EDL). If a music supervisor is on the project, they can sometimes be responsible for collecting information on the music used as well. A rough draft of a cue sheet is then sent to the music department at the production company for verification of accuracy and the inclusion of additional information, such as the proper copyright information for licensed music or other publishing-related information. The production company then distributes the finished cue sheet to all interested parties, such as publishers, composers, attorneys and performing rights organizations like ASCAP and BMI.
Due to the rapidly changing landscape of television and film production, there are a growing number of independent production companies that may not be aware of the importance of filing a music cue sheet. AudioSparx believes it is important for you to understand what a cue sheet is. In recognition of this, AudioSparx has created this new area on our website offering a "Cue Sheet FAQ" and downloadable samples for people not familiar with cue sheets.