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Performing rights organizations

2 min read

What are PROs?

PROs represent songwriters and music publishers and collect performing rights royalties on their behalf.

What is a Performing Rights Organization (PRO)?

PROs rights and collect on behalf of and when their are publicly performed or broadcast. Public performances can include playing a of a musical work on TV or radio, in clubs and restaurants, on websites, or other music broadcasting systems. It also includes live performances.

For more details about this, visit our topics on Music Creators’ Rights, Rights Transfer and Licensing, and Scope of Protection.

Visit our page on Collective Management Organizations to learn more about different types of CMOs.

What do PROs do?

PROs perform a range of functions, the most important being:

  • the use of musical works, specifically the

  • Collecting royalties and from businesses and organizations that use musical works

  • Distributing those royalties to songwriters and music publishers

  • Administering rights

How do PROs work?

PROs work by licensing the public performance of musical works to businesses and organizations. When a business or organization wants to use these musical works, I.e., typically by playing the sound recording of the musical work in public, they must obtain a license and pay the PRO for the use.

PROs then distribute royalties to the songwriters and music publishers who own the rights in the musical works. The amount of royalty earned is typically based on how many times the musical work was played and the length of the performance. However, many variations can apply in different countries in different scenarios.

Most PROs are members of CISAC or can be found through the local .

Why are PROs important?

PROs are important because they help songwriters and music publishers get paid and for the use of their musical works. They assign , administer rights, and collect and pay royalties to songwriters and music publishers when their musical works are used.

Music publishers can work very closely with PROs; both have a role in administering rights and licensing, but they are not the same. Music publishers, in addition to managing and protecting rights, play a more active role in the growth and success of their songwriter's careers.

Visit our page on Music Publishers to learn more.

Image credit: Martin Fabricius Rasmussen