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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Allocation of License

     So here are the societies sitting with those millions of dollars of license fees when making your own music. how do you know how much to pay each publisher and writer? First, the monies are used to pay the operating expenses of the society. Then, everything left over is divided among the participants (ASCAP and BMI are non-profit, so everything not used for expenses gets paid out; SESAC is privately owned and operated for profit, so they don't distribute all the money). The division is based only on radio airplay, television airplay and touring if you are an artist who performs his or her own compositions in live concerts, but you're not on the radio or TV, you can sometimes make special arrangements with BMI (but not ASCAP) to get paid. So, you ask, how do they know how much a song is played on the radio or on tv?

1. Radio
BMI requires its licensee radio stations to keep logs of all the musical compositions they play. This is done on a rotating basis, from station to station, and each station has to log for three days each year. BMI then projects from these logs to the whole country. As a check against the logs, BMI uses a services that digitally listens to certain stations. The digital magician matches the songs to a database and reports what it hears. ASCAP doesn't have stations keep logs. They use a digital monitoring service to scour hundreds of thousands of hours, then extrapolate for the rest of the country.

2. Television
TV stations are required to keep cue sheets, which are lists of every musical composition used, how long it was played, and how it was used (theme song, background, performed visually, etc.). The cue sheets are then filed with the societies and there are specific dollar amounts paid for each type of use. The amount also varies with the size of the broadcast area (local pays a lot less than network).

3. Touring
The societies now pay based on domestic live performances, but it's only for the top tow hundred grossing tours as reported in a magazine called Pollstar. They pay based on set lists-lists of the songs played by the band involved-which they get from either the venues or artist's management.

4. Muzak
Muzak, your source of fine music in elevators, grocery stores, and waiting rooms is also logged separately.

BMI pays bonuses for musical compositions that are performed heavily. and this can result in substantially increases in the amount of performance monies paid. ASCAP has no such concept, but its fees tend to be comparable anyway. Both societies pay quarterly and both societies pay about nine months to a year after the quarter in which monies are received.

When making your own music, it is crucial to join BMI or ASCAP!

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