FAQ - Is a performing rights organization the same thing as a publisher?
No. This is a common misconception. PROs collect royalties for songwriters, composers and music publishers from radio, television, the Internet, restaurants and thousands of other businesses that use music. In effect, a PRO acts as a representative so writers can get on with the business of creating new music while their royalties are collected for them. There are three in the US: BMI, ASCAP and SESAC, and one in almost every country you can think of. (See “What does a publisher do?”)
Publishers sign contracts with songwriters to take a percentage of your Publishing Royalties as their incentive to ‘pitch’ your songs to those who want to record it and release it to market where it can earn those royalties. As the owner of the song you own 100% of your Publishing Royalties and 100% of your Songwriting Royalties. Publishers get the song to market, and, if it gets played enough, PRO’s collect the royalties and pay them to the songwriter(s) and publisher(s) who have registered the song titles and their names and contact information with the PRO’s.