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U.S. Television Royalties

Types of Uses

BMI categorizes broadcast television and cable television performances as listed below and derives a census of program information from music cue sheets and performance information provided to BMI by BMI television licensees, the TV Data Corporation, and other qualified sources.

Feature Performance

A performance of a work which is the focus of audience attention at the time of the broadcast. These works properly are noted on the music cue sheet with one of the following codes:

  • Visual Vocal (VV) - to be used when the vocalist is on camera singing the song
  • Visual Instrumental (VI) - to be used when the instrumentalist is on camera performing the song

Background Performance

A performance of a work (or works) used as dramatic underscore to a scene where the music is not the focus of audience attention yet nonetheless is used to set the mood of the scene. These usually are works commissioned especially for a TV program or motion picture, or are library works selected by a program producer in lieu of specially commissioned music. These works generally are of a background instrumental nature and properly are noted on cue sheets with a use code of “BI.” A performance of a song where the lyrics are audible to the listening audience, even though there may be some dialogue in the foreground of the scene, is a background vocal performance and properly is noted on cue sheets as “BV”.

Theme Performance

A performance of a work that is regularly associated with a television program and identifies that program to the viewer when used as the opening and/or closing music. Theme credit is given only when a work is used in multiple episodes of a television program. Works, other than the theme as described above, used at the opening and/or closing of an individual episode of a series will be credited in accordance with their actual use (feature or background).

Logo Performance

A performance of music regularly accompanying the visual identification of a production company or program distributor.

Paid Programming Performance

Music performed in a long-form advertisement, the content of which often includes a product demonstration and invites direct consumer response.

The rates for feature, background, theme and logo performances on Local Television are indicated on the rate table below. Music performed within paid programming will be paid at one-third of the otherwise applicable rate listed.

Promotional Announcements

BMI pays for music used in promotional announcements aired on television on ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and The CW. Payments are calculated based upon the time of day of the performance and the number of promotional announcements aired in a given quarter.  Please note rates may vary from quarter to quarter depending on the number of promotional announcements aired in a given quarter.  At this time, no payment is made for promotional announcements on any other medium.

All Promo related questions may be submitted to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

No payment is currently made for Station IDs or public service announcements. However, BMI may voluntarily introduce payments for these categories at any time, at rates to be determined by BMI.

Commercial Jingles (Performances as of January 1, 2011)

A commercial jingle is a work (either pre-existing or specifically written for an advertiser) used to advertise on television products and/or services for sale.

BMI pays for all music compositions greater than five seconds for performances of commercial jingles on broadcast and cable networks, and local television in major markets. Payments are calculated based upon the time of day of the performances and the number of commercial jingles aired in a given quarter.  Please note rates may vary from quarter to quarter depending on the number of commercials jingles eligible for payment in a given quarter and the time of day of the performance itself.

To be eligible for payment for commercial jingle royalties, the proper documentation must be completed.  Simply complete the Commercial Jingle Form which can be found on BMI.com.  Although not required initially, BMI on occasion may require submission of additional documentation, such as a Sync License or Contract.

All Commercial Jingle related questions may be submitted to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

For further assistance regarding promos or jingles,  please contact Jackie Simmons in the BMI TV Operations Department at 10 Music Square East, Nashville, TN 37203, or by telephone at 615-401-5476.  Email - .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Network Television

BMI currently licenses the ABC, CBS, NBC and Univision television networks under agreements where the fee to cover music used in network originating programming is paid for by the network instead of by the local TV station carrying the program. Performances of music on these networks are listed separately on your royalty statements.

Two other television networks, Fox and The CW, are not currently licensed by BMI as networks but royalties for network programming are calculated using the same methodology as the licensed networks. The license fees associated with network performances of music in the programming carried by Fox and The CW networks are paid by the individual local stations broadcasting the programs and are subject to Network Television royalty payment rules.

For performances of music in the BMI repertoire that occur on the ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, The CW and Univision television networks, royalties will be paid according to the following rules:
Network Television royalty payments are based upon the network license fees that BMI collects from each network or station. Royalty payment rates will vary from quarter to quarter depending upon the amount of the license fees allocated to each quarter determined by using television audience measurement data provided by Nielsen Media Research. In addition, the rates may fluctuate from quarter to quarter depending upon the total performances of music in the BMI repertoire for each quarter’s TV Network Distribution.

Under the BMI TV Network payment system, performances of music can become eligible for up to three distinct royalty payment components each quarter. They are called the CURRENT ACTIVITY PAYMENT, the SUPER USAGE PAYMENT and the THEME MUSIC BONUS.

The Current Activity Payment

All music in the BMI repertoire that is performed on licensed networks is eligible for a Current Activity Payment. BMI calculates a unique royalty rate for each performance, which is based upon the license fees available for the quarter in combination with the duration of the performance, the weighted royalty value for each usage type and television audience measurement data provided by Nielsen Media Research for each program aired on that network. For example, if your music was performed during a network program on Monday, October 6, 2008 at 9:00 PM, its unique rate is calculated using the television audience measurement data for that unique network program. The royalty values for all types of performances (theme, feature, background, underscore and logo) that were reported to BMI on network television program cue sheets are weighted by BMI with each type having a unique valuation. The substantial majority of the amount available for distribution each quarter is used to make Current Activity Payments. 

Super Usage Payment

Due to their extended continuous duration, certain types of performances may qualify for a Super Usage Payment. Performances of songs (Background Vocal, Visual Instrumental and Visual Vocal usages) with a continuous duration of one minute or greater are designated as Super Usages. The royalty rate for these performances is higher than those of a feature performance with duration of less than one minute.

Theme Music Bonus Payment

Due to the highly recognizable nature of network television theme music performances, certain theme music may qualify for a Theme Music Bonus Payment. Theme music with at least 2,000 quarterly network performances is eligible for the bonus payment. When a particular theme qualifies for the bonus payment, all other theme music associated with that program automatically qualifies for the bonus payment. BMI allocates a portion of the amount available for distribution each quarter for each licensed television network to the Theme Music Bonus, and each eligible performance receives a pro-rata portion of the Theme Music Bonus allocation according to the actual number of its quarterly performances. As a result, themes with higher current quarter performance counts earn larger Theme Music Bonus royalties than those themes with lower current quarter performance counts.

Local Television

Currently BMI licenses over 1100 local television stations on a “blanket” or “per-program” basis. A blanket licensee pays a single fee that covers the performance of any BMI-licensed work in the licensee’s syndicated and locally-originated programs (including those carrying Fox, The CW and Ion programming). A per-program licensee pays a fee to BMI only when there is BMI music used in films or other audio-visual works or on a syndicated or locally originating program broadcast on the station, as well as for certain incidental and ambient uses of music.

For distribution purposes, BMI separates fees derived from blanket licensees and per-program licensees. Royalty rates for TV Performances occurring on stations choosing a blanket license are weighted in order to reflect the license fees paid by a station or group of stations. The Local Television Rates below reflect the initial starting point of the royalty calculation. These rates are NOT the maximum or minimum rates available which may be ultimately paid by BMI. TV Local blanket royalty rates are calculated based on license fee revenue received from the station(s) airing BMI music and by applying the relationships between the various use types, i.e. feature, theme, background, etc., as indicated below. Performances of music on stations opting for a per-program license are credited by calculating the fee associated with the individual program and applying the relationships between the various use types, i.e. feature, theme, background, etc. Fees collected from per-program stations are distributed only to those songwriters, composers and publishers whose music is used on the programs for which the fees are paid, less an administrative charge.

Local Television Rates @ 200%

PERFORMANCE TYPE DAYPART A
(4:00 PM-12:59 AM)
DAYPART B
(all other times)
FULL FEATURE (45 secs or more)* $5.00 $1.50
THEME (per show) $2.00 $1.00
BACKGROUND (per minute) $0.76 $0.42
LOGO (per show) $0.18 $0.16

* Performances of less than 45 seconds are paid on a prorata basis.

Cable and Satellite Television Networks, Pay-Per-View and Video-on-Demand Services (for performances through September 30, 2011)

BMI collects license fees from both premium cable networks (e.g., HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, etc.) and basic cable networks (e.g., MTV, USA Network, Lifetime, Discovery Network, VH-1, GSN, etc.). Because the list of cable licensees changes from quarter to quarter, they are not included in this manual.  BMI’s licenses with audio-visual programming providers may be considered interim in certain aspects and subject to retroactive adjustment, either higher or lower, once final license fees are set. As such, royalties that BMI has paid in connection with interim fee licenses may or may not be adjusted retrospectively once a particular interim license is finalized.

A census of programming information for cable TV is provided to BMI by outside sources and cue sheets for the programs are collected from many sources, including, but not limited to, cable networks and program producers and distributors. Royalty rates are determined each quarter by applying an appropriate amount of license fees collected from cable networks (less an administrative fee), using the methodology and relative weightings of the Local Television rates as a starting point. No payment is currently made for Network IDs, public service announcements or promos on basic cable networks or satellite television, except as otherwise indicated. However, BMI may voluntarily introduce payments for these categories at any time, at rates to be determined by BMI. Some cable networks offer multiplexing, a suite of additional channels designed to provide viewers with a broad range of programming choices. BMI allocates royalties to multiplex channels based upon programming and viewership information when available, or by using the best alternative to such information at the time.

Cable and Satellite Television Networks, Pay-Per-View and Video-on-Demand Services (for performances on and after October 1, 2011)


Cable Television

BMI collects license fees from both premium cable television companies (e.g., HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, etc.) and basic cable television companies (e.g., MTV, USA Network, Lifetime, Discovery Network, VH-1, GSN, etc.). Because the list of cable television licensees changes from quarter to quarter, they are not included in this manual.  BMI’s licenses with audio-visual programming providers may be considered interim in certain aspects and subject to retroactive adjustment, either higher or lower, once final license fees are set. As such, royalties that BMI has paid in connection with interim fee licenses may or may not be adjusted retrospectively once a particular interim license is finalized.

A census of programming information for cable television is provided to BMI by outside sources and cue sheets for the programs are collected from many sources, including, but not limited to, cable program providers, program producers and distributors. Some cable networks offer multiplexing, a suite of additional channels designed to provide viewers with a broad range of programming choices. BMI allocates royalties to multiplex channels based upon programming and viewership information when available, or by using the best alternative to such information at the time.

Cable Television royalty payments are based upon the license fees that BMI collects from each individual cable television company. Royalty payment rates will vary from quarter to quarter depending upon the amount of the license fees allocated to each quarter determined by using television audience measurement data provided by Nielsen Media Research. In addition, the rates may fluctuate from quarter to quarter depending upon the total performances of music in the BMI repertoire for each quarter’s Cable Television distribution.

Under the BMI Cable Television payment system, performances of music can become eligible for two distinct royalty payment components each quarter. They are called the CURRENT ACTIVITY PAYMENT and the SUPER USAGE PAYMENT.

For performances of music in the BMI repertoire that occur on cable television, royalties will be paid according to the following rules:

The Current Activity Payment

All music in the BMI repertoire that is performed on licensed cable television networks is eligible for a Current Activity Payment. BMI calculates a unique royalty rate for each performance, which is based upon the license fees available for the quarter in combination with the duration of the performance, the weighted royalty value for each usage type and cable television audience measurement data provided by Nielsen Media Research for each program aired on that network. For example, if your music was performed during a cable television program on Monday, October 10, 2011 at 9:00 PM, its unique rate is calculated using the cable television audience measurement data for that unique cable program. The royalty values for all types of performances (theme, feature, background, and logo) that were reported to BMI on cable television program cue sheets are weighted by BMI with each type having a unique valuation.

Super Usage Payment

Due to their extended continuous duration, certain types of performances may qualify for a Super Usage Payment. Performances of songs (Background Vocal, Visual Instrumental and Visual Vocal usages) with a continuous duration of one minute or greater are designated as Super Usages. The royalty rate for these performances is higher than those of a feature performance with duration of less than one minute.

Cue Sheets

Cue sheets can be submitted via email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or mailed to
BMI TV Operations
10 Music Square East
Nashville, TN 37203