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U.S. Radio Royalties

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

basic

U.S. Radio Feature Performances

We define a “radio feature performance” of a popular song as one that’s at least 60 seconds long and is the only sound broadcast during the performance.

Based on a sampling of licensed stations, we pay on three separate categories of radio feature performances: Commercial Radio, Classical Radio,  and College Radio.

Commercial Radio

We use performance monitoring data, continuously collected on a large percentage of all licensed commercial radio stations, to determine payable performances. This census information is factored to create a statistically reliable and highly accurate representation of feature performances on all commercial music format radio stations throughout the country.

Royalty payments are based on the license fees we collect from the actual stations performing a work. So, royalty payments will vary depending upon the amount of license fees we collect and the number of payable performances in any given quarter.

Every work, even those written for films and the theater, may be eligible for up to three different quarterly royalty payment parts. They are called the Current Activity Payment, the Hit Song Bonus and the Standards Bonus.

The Current Activity Payment

All BMI works performed on radio are eligible for a Current Activity Payment. We calculate a unique royalty rate for each work, based upon the license fees that are collected from stations that performed the work, combined with the number of times the work was aired. The majority of the funds available for the quarterly commercial radio royalty payments are used to make the Current Activity Payments.

The Hit Song Bonus

Any work that’s performed more than 95,000 times during a quarter may get a Hit Song Bonus. The more times your song is performed in a quarter, the higher your share of the Hit Song Bonus pool will be.

The Standards Bonus

If you’re lucky enough to be the writer or publisher of a “Standard,” which we define as being performed at least 2.5 million times since its release and at least 15,000 times in a quarter (songs like “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” or “Stand By Me”), you’ll get a Standards Bonus. As with the Hit Song Bonus, the more performances your work has, the larger the share of this quarterly bonus pool you’ll get.

Short-Duration Detections

We use our own digital tracking technology to identify performances of your songs that aired for less than 60 seconds. We create a separate quarterly royalty pool for these brief uses. They won’t increase your overall feature performances and they’re not eligible for Hit Song or Standards Bonuses.

Classical Radio

We have special rules for classical works, which we define as a symphonic, chamber music, solo or other work originally written for classical concert or opera performance. If a local commercial radio feature performance is of a classical work (even if it’s not on a classical station), each performance will be paid at the minimum rate of 32 cents per minute total for all participants.

College Radio

BMI pays for feature performances of a song on college radio stations at a minimum rate of 6 cents total for all participants.

Extended-Play Work

If the recording of your song is more than 6 minutes long, you get double credit for radio performances! Sorry, this doesn’t apply to classical works. To make sure you get this bonus, please send us a letter with your registration with label copy showing the duration of the work.