Music Publishing Royalties Explained: What is a Performance Royalty?

What is a Performance Royalty?Music publishing is one of the most important revenue generators for an artist that writes original material. That is why we created CD Baby Pro Publishing Administration so that CD Baby artists get access to worldwide publishing royalty collection.

To read about the various kinds of publishing royalties you can generate through the usage of your music, click HERE.

But in this article — we’re going to talk about one of the big ones: performance royalties.

Some industry experts claim that the amount of performance royalties distributed to songwriters and publishers each year accounts for as much as 30-35% of the total available publishing royalties — so there’s big money to be made.

What ARE performance royalties anyway?

A performance royalty is owed to the songwriter and publisher of a particular song whenever that composition is “broadcast” or performed “in public.”

These instances include: 

• plays on terrestrial and satellite radio (Sirius, KEXP, etc.)

• usages on network and cable TV, film, commercials, games, etc.

• plays on internet radio

• plays on online music streaming services (Spotify, Pandora, etc.)

• performances in live venues

The stations, networks, venues, and music services that benefit from the public broadcast/performance of your music owe you a performance royalty for those usages. But they’re not psychic, and they don’t have time to hunt down every songwriter individually. That’s where Performing Rights Organizations come in.

How do you collect performance royalties? 

As a songwriter, you’ll need to affiliate with a Performing Rights Organization (or P.R.O.) such as ASCAP or BMI (if you’re in the USA). These societies collect and distribute performance royalties on behalf of songwriters and publishers. If you’re outside the USA, check out the list of Performing Rights Organizations HERE.

Or, as a CD Baby Pro member, we’ll handle your affiliation with ASCAP or BMI and register your songs for you — saving you tons of extra paperwork. Plus, we’ll register your songs directly with many other collection societies around the world and make sure you get paid all the royalties you’re owed — not JUST performance royalties, but also mechanical royalties for international downloads and global streaming.

To make sure you’re getting paid all the publishing royalties you’re owed worldwide, register today for CD Baby Pro.

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