Miscellaneous Royalty Rules

Royalty policies are complicated. Choose between two versions of this page.


Direct Licensing of Works

Writers and publishers retain the right to directly license performances of their works, including granting “source” licenses to production companies. BMI requires you notify us about these licenses in writing within 10 days of when you issue the license or within three months of the performance, whichever comes first. We have to know about the licenses so that you don’t get paid twice.

Royalty Adjustments

If you think we’ve made a mistake in the royalties we’ve paid you, you’ve got nine months from the date of the payment to notify our Writer/Publisher Relations department about it in writing. We don’t do adjustments for less than $25 because it costs too much.

Overpayment of Royalties

Sorry, but you’re not allowed to keep the money if we overpay you by mistake. We’ll deduct the overpayment from your account; if you don’t have earnings to cover it, we’ll ask you to write us a check. Sometimes, license fees are paid on an interim basis while BMI and the licensee try to figure out what the actual fee should be. If it turns out that the final, actual fee is lower than the interim fee and we paid you according to the interim fee, we reserve the right to debit your account for the difference. This doesn’t happen very often, but it does happen.

Payment from Another Organization

You’re not allowed to get paid by BMI and another performing rights organization for the same performances. That can happen if you leave BMI and go elsewhere. We hold up your royalties once you tell us you’re leaving so that you’re not double-dipping. You have a year to show us you weren’t and get your money.

Assignments of Royalties

BMI will let you temporarily assign your royalties in certain circumstances, like when somebody lends you money and it’s to be repaid from your BMI royalties. We’ll also let you make a permanent assignment of your BMI royalties to an entity that purchases your royalty income stream.  We have specific requirements for these assignments and you’ll need you to fill out forms and provide us with certain documents.

Royalties Withheld Due to Litigation

If BMI gets sued, we may withhold royalties relating to the lawsuit. We’ll also withhold royalties for any work that’s the subject of a lawsuit if we’re sent a court order requiring us to put a hold on payments. You don’t need to provide BMI with a court order to have royalties held if the writers and publishers on the song agree to have a third party get the money and they all sign a letter to us saying that.

Legal Process Administration Charges

Life often brings problems -— like legal proceedings. If BMI has to respond to your tax levy, garnishment, restraining notice, child or spousal support order or divorce decree, you’ll be charged a handling fee, which varies depending upon what we’re required to do, but for most things is $100. 

Stop Payments and Re-Issuance of Royalty Checks

Stop-payment requests must be confirmed in writing. And we’ll deduct a $30 administrative fee from the reissued check. However, we can’t stop payment on any royalties that have been directly deposited into an account.