A performance rights organization (PRO) like ASCAP and BMI collects royalties between copyright holders and parties who wish to use copyrighted works publicly (such as in film, television, and radio).
Performing rights organizations monitor their members’ music when it is performed on the radio. In the radio, on television, and in 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.
Most countries have their own PROs. ASCAP, BMI and SESAC represent the United States, while GEMA works with German artists. SOCAN is Canadian. PRS is for the UK. SACEM handles France. You can find a list of PROs here. Nearly all PROs have relationships with one another.
Does it cost me anything to submit a cue sheet?
No, and it doesn’t cost you anything extra to purchase a PRO clip from Pond5 (with the exception of German PRO GEMA-affiliated clips, see below). No additional fees are charged by the PRO to the buyer. The PROs all have licensing agreements established with the networks, studios, etc., and this is how royalties are paid to artists. The fees paid to the performing rights organizations are typically paid by the broadcaster and are not within the responsibility of the producer.
Where can I find cue sheets?
You can find a blank cue sheet here.
What information needs to be on the cue sheet?
The cue sheet should have identifying information for the program it represents (i.e. film, episode of television series, etc.) and should list the cue title, duration, usage and entitled parties (writers/composers and publishers) for each PRO registered cue.
Who is responsible for submitting the cue sheets?
The production company is responsible for submitting cue sheets. Typically, this responsibility is handled by the music department. Although cue sheets may come in from other sources, the copy from the production company is always considered authoritative.
Can I file cue sheets online?
Of course. In the USA, you can send it to either ASCAP, or BMI:
ASCAP – ASCAP prefers to have cue-sheets submitted electronically to: email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternately, you may mail your cue-sheet to ASCAP at:
ASCAP, ATTN: Cue Sheet Dept.,
One Lincoln Plaza,
New York, NY 10023
BMI – Send electronic copies of your cue-sheet to email@example.com
Or, mail hard-copies to:
BMI, Cue Sheet Department – 3rd Floor,
10 Music Square East,
Nashville, TN 37203
Normally you would want to send a copy of your cue-sheet to every PRO that appears on your cue-sheet.
When are cue sheets processed?
Cue sheets are processed in time for the distribution that reflects performances in the quarter that the program was first broadcast. In other words, 4-6 months after the program has aired.
How do I deal with the German PRO GEMA?
Users of GEMA-protected works – primarily manufacturers of audio/video media, radio and television broadcasters, and the organizers of events such as music festivals, street festivals, Christmas markets, and many more – procure the required usage rights from GEMA by paying a fee, which is to be paid to the rights-holders after the deduction of an administrative handling charge.
When you buy a PRO clip on Pond5 for a public performance and your company has no framework contract with GEMA, you need to file a cue sheet indicating the intended usage of the PRO clip to GEMA. Here is the link to their online calculator and an overview of potential usages of PRO clips. GEMA will then send you an invoice, and, after receiving your bank transfer, will pay the royalties to the creator of the works.