Performance rights royalties are royalties that are paid to songwriters when a song of theirs is played live. When you say live, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the song is played during a concert, but could also indicate public airing of the song’s recorded version, such as one TV or radio. Each time your song is publicly played, you should receive performance rights royalties.
How Performance Rights Royalty Payments Work?
First, know that performance rights royalties are very much different from synchronization rights royalties, in which you sell rights to a movie or television show that needs synchronized music or mechanical rights royalties, which are royalties you receive when an individual purchases your album.
As you probably know, monitoring public performances that involve playing your song could be very challenging; most particularly for extremely popular songs, and monitoring live performances is often next to impossible.
Rather than tackling this tedious task on their own, publishers and songwriters leave the work to performance rights collection societies, such as BMI, SESAC, and ASCAP. These entities issue licenses to other entities that want to use their member’s music in a live setting collects all the licensing fees and then disburses their members with the royalties.
Publishers and songwriters separately apply to these collection societies. Songwriters are only allowed to become a member of one society, but publishers are encouraged to become a member of the three so that they could more effectively manage all their songwriters’ works. When songwriters and publishers join these societies, they receive 50% of every song they choose to register.
Put simply, once these societies have collected the royalties, they send 50% of the royalties to the songwriter or publisher.
Other Vital Things to Note
Performance rights collection societies pay out performance rights royalties to their members quarterly. If you’re a songwriter, you won’t have to wait for your publisher (if you have one) to give you your share, so you’ll be able to manage your royalties personally, perhaps with help from royalty accounting software, and make certain that you’re collecting all royalties you rightly deserve.