Breaking Through The Confusion Of Stock Music - Part 2

In my previous blog, I started talking about stock music libraries, the differences between exclusive and non-exclusive, and reasons why you'd want to go with one or the other. This week, I'd like to give you a bit of information about PRO's or Performance Rights Organisations and why it might be a good idea to join one... or not.

WHAT IS A PRO?


A Performance Rights Organisation, when signed up with, will collect royalties on your behalf if any of your music is used in a radio or tv broadcast, and performed or played in public, eg. on a shopping centre's tannoy or at a live gig.


This is really useful for stock library musicians because that share split with the library I mentioned last week can mean we don't get enough money from the initial sale. By making sure we're signed up to receive royalties, depending on where it's being used, over time we'll earn more money to make up for that small sale. Royalties are how a lot of pop artists make most of their living. For example, Mariah Carey makes anywhere between $600,000 and $1 million in royalties each christmas for her hit 'All I Want For Christmas Is You'.


Big PRO's include ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC in America, SOCAN in Canada but here in the UK, you'll want to know about the Performing Right Society or PRS for short. Most countries have their own and it's a good idea to sign up with the one in your own country, to begin with at least.


ARE THERE ANY NEGATIVES?


Well, for the average stock music producer, perhaps only one or two. The first, is that some libraries (usually royalty-free or performance-free) will have in their contract that they don't accept PRO-registered music, so if you've already uploaded music to one of those libraries, take it off before you sign up to a PRO. Equally though, some of the more elite libraries don't accept music unless it is PRO-registered.


The second, is that by uploading your music to a royalty-free library, you are essentially agreeing to waive the possibility of getting royalties for your music. I say 'potentially' because some libraries do allow you to show that you are registered with a PRO, giving the client the option of adding your music to a cue sheet (a cue sheet is what the client writes all the information on about what your music is being used in. This is then sent off to the PRO so that they can find where your music is being used and give you your royalties). This can also depend on what the music is being used for. If it's simply for private purposes then no cue sheet would need to be filled out anyway so no royalties. If the music was bought with the intention of putting it in a hit new tv series then, yes, usually it would need to be put on a cue sheet and sent to the PRO. Your music being on a 'royalty-free' library though, means this is now optional not compulsory.


Having said that though, don't suddenly take your music off all of these royalty-free libraries. Some clients still look through these particular libraries with the intention of buying PRO-registered music for which you will end up getting royalties. The thing is, a lot of the bigger clients with big projects might have to purposely buy PRO-registered music and look at those libraries because they are often cheaper. By being registered with a PRO, you look like a producer who takes his work seriously.


WHAT ABOUT MECHANICAL RIGHTS?


As stock music producers, you should also be aware of your mechanical rights, as well as your performance rights. These include physical sales of copied CDs and DVDs, and streams and downloads, which include music libraries. Mechanical rights are dealt with separately so don't be surprised to fork out more money to join another organisation. Luckily for us UK-based music producers, the MCPS (Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society) is part of the PRS (though still behind a paywall of £100).


Again, some libraries require that you are also a member of a mechanical rights organisation before being allowed to sell your music on them. The PRS even has a long list of all the libraries they are associated with who only allow MCPS music. A very useful list of contacts, none of which, however, are royalty-free and all require you to be exclusive. Still, with the guarantee of royalties, why not take a look?


IN THE NEXT BLOG...


I'll be talking about my personal experience as a stock music producer and how I've got on with specific libraries.


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