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Knowledge Base Article: KB1788
Topic: FAQ - Publisher Questions

Title: Performing Rights Organizations - What Are They?

Last Reviewed: Feb 28, 2014

Q.  What Are Performing Rights Organizations?

A.  A performing rights organization's (PRO) function is collecting performce royalties on behalf of its members, composers and music publishers. The PRO then distributes these royalties to its members, minus the PRO's administration costs. Most composers and publishers at have an agreement with a PRO.

PROs license public performances of their members' music which includes primarily television broadcasting (network television, cable TV, cable movie channels such as HBO, Showtime, etc., as well as radio broadcasting (primarily for radio commercials).  Additional licensing is done for use in nightclubs, stores, restaurants and other public performances. PROs only licenses performing rights, and only non-dramatic performing rights.

Dramatic Rights (which are not licensed by the PROs) include performances you would see on Broadway or other theater type of performance. These rights are negotiated directly with rather than through a PRO.  Performance royalties are collected for movie theater performances in almost every country except the United States of America.

Rights such as mechanical rights, grand rights, master rights or synchronization rights are NOT licensed by PROs. PROs license performing rights only.  AudioSparx licenses all of these rights (mechanical, sync, master, grand rights) and for some situations where there is public performance of the music other than in broadcast television and radio, AudioSparx licenses performance rights as well.

Performing rights organizations monitor their members' music when it is performed on the radio. In Television and Film performances, PROs use what is known as a Cue Sheet to keep track of whose music is used in which broadcast or film. These Cue Sheets are filled out by the producer and submitted to each PRO who has a member represented on the Cue Sheet. The fees paid to the performing rights organizations are typically paid by the broadcaster and are not the responsibility of the producer.

To see a comprehensive list of performing rights organizations worldwide, click here.

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