U.S. Television Royalties

U.S. Audio Visual Royalties
Performance Sources Covered

Network Television

BMI currently licenses the ABC, CBS, NBC and Univision television networks under Network License Agreements. Two other television networks, Fox and The CW, are not currently licensed under a Network License by BMI, 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. Performances of music on these networks are listed separately on your royalty statements.  See additional Payment Rules Below.

Cable and Satellite Television Networks, Pay-Per-View and Video-on-Demand Services

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, etc.). Because the list of cable television licensees changes from quarter to quarter, they are not included in this manual. See additional Payment Rules Below.

Local Television

BMI licenses over 1,200 local television stations with either a “blanket” or “per-program” license.  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.  A per-program licensee pays a fee to BMI only when there is BMI music used in the syndicated or locally originating program broadcast on the station, as well as for certain incidental and ambient uses of music. For distribution purposes, BMI processes distributions for each individual station. Note on the BMI statement, royalties for each station are summarized by the license type.  See additional Payment Rules Below.

Public Broadcast Stations

BMI has a blanket license with the Corporation for Public Broadcast (PBS).  The blanket license covers all of the affiliated stations.  Note on the BMI statement, royalties will appear under U.S. Performances – Local Television with a statement description of “PBS”.  See additional Payment Rules Below.


Each year, BMI receives royalties from the U.S. Copyright Office for music performed on distant-signal broadcast television stations carried by cable television systems (e.g., superstation WGN-Chicago) and for music performed in broadcast TV programs that are retransmitted by satellite carriers. BMI distributes this money to writers and publishers whose music is in that programming. See additional Payment Rules Below.

Digital Audio Visual Streaming Services

A Digital Audio Visual Streaming Services can be described as, but not limited to, an on-demand streaming video of a television show, movie or video.  Performances of this sort are offered by websites such as Netflix and Hulu.  As this continues to be an emerging market, BMI continues to pursue licenses with service providers as they launch.  See additional Payment Rules Below.

Data Procurement

BMI is provided with audio visual performance information either from its licensee, Gracenote or other qualified providers.  BMI matches performance information with music cue sheets that are obtained from production companies, BMI Licensees, and other third-party providers. 

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

Types of Uses

For Audio Visual Sources, BMI categorizes performances as listed below:

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 audible but 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. For purposes hereof, a television program is defined as an audio-visual production that is broadcast on over-the-air, cable, or Internet, television with a duration typically greater than 15 minutes, and not, for the avoidance of doubt, a commercial, trailer, interstitial or any other short-form programming that does not serve as attraction for viewership.

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).

Note that when a segment theme is reported, it will be credited as a background use.  A segment theme is defined as the re-use of a theme throughout a program. 

Additionally, themes reported in use during interstitials or other short-form programming will be credited as a background use.

Logo Performance

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

Promotional Announcements

A performance that promotes a program airing on a television station or network.  When performance information is provided to BMI, BMI will pay for music used in promotional announcements aired on both Network and Cable Television.  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.

Music used within Advertisements (Commercial Jingles)

BMI pays for music contained in advertisements/commercials for compositions greater than five seconds when appearing in nationally broadcast commercials on broadcast television networks, cable networks, and local television broadcasts.

To be eligible for payment for commercial jingle royalties, the below information must be provided by the affiliate and/or their representative and e-mailed to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Although not required initially, BMI on occasion may require submission of additional documentation, such as a Sync License or Contract. If BMI does not receive notification from the affiliate, payments may not be made for performances.

*Song Title: Name of song
*BMI Work Number: Provide BMI issued work number
*Numerator (Vivvix) Ad Code(s): Refer to Ad Intel Library (contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for assistance)
Additional help courses available in the Ad Intel University.
Duration: Duration of advert/commercial and music within commercial
Advertiser: Name of company that owns the product being advertised
Ad Campaign: Name of ad campaign
Product: Name of product
*First Air Date: MM/DD/YY

*Required fields

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

Audio Visual Royalty Calculation

For performances of music in the BMI repertoire that occur on Network, Cable, Local or Digital Service, royalties will be paid according to the following rules: Royalty payments are based upon the license fees that BMI collects from each network, station, or digital service provider. Royalty payment rates will vary from quarter to quarter depending upon the amount of the license fees. 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 Distribution.

For all Audio Visual Sources BMI will calculate and pay royalties for two categories, called the CURRENT ACTIVITY PAYMENT and the SUPER USAGE PAYMENT.  The rules for each are as follows:

The Current Activity Payment

All music in the BMI repertoire that is performed on licensed networks, cable networks, and Local TV stations 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 program on Monday, January 5, 2015 at 9:00 PM, its unique rate is calculated using the television audience measurement data for that unique program. The royalty values for all types of performances (theme, feature, background and logo) that were reported to BMI on 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 (Network Television Stations Only)

Due to the highly recognizable nature of network television theme music performances, certain theme music may qualify for a Theme Music Bonus Payment. Currently the Theme Music Bonus Payment is paid for qualified themes across ABC, CBS, CW, FOX, NBC and UNIVISION network performances.  Depending on the network, the theme music must have a minimum number of quarterly network performances to be eligible for the bonus payment.

  • ABC, CBS and NBC require 2,000 quarterly network performances
  • CW requires 700 quarterly network performances
  • FOX requires 1,700 quarterly network performances
  • UNIVISION requires 150 quarterly network performances

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. For each network, themes with higher current quarter performance counts earn larger Theme Music Bonus royalties than those themes with lower current quarter performance counts.

As noted previously, themes reported as segment themes or used in interstitials or other short-form programs will not qualify for the Theme Music Bonus Payment.

The Annual Bonus

The Annual Bonus is comprised of three distinct bonus categories that are calculated through the assessment of a full calendar year of performances, and the associated quarterly earnings that have previously been paid. They include: 1) a digital audiovisual streaming bonus that recognizes the popularity of series and films across the major audio visual streaming services; 2) an audio bonus that recognizes the aggregated yearly impact of top-performing songs on radio and digital services; 3) a catalog bonus for songwriters whose many songs were widely performed across multiple digital streaming services but most, if not all, of the songs did not qualify for quarterly bonuses. The Annual Bonus is planned to be included in our yearly November distribution.

Commercial Jingles and Promos Payment

For Commercial Jingles and Promos, payments are calculated based upon the time of day of the performances and the number of performances aired in a given quarter.  Please note rates may vary from quarter to quarter depending on the license fees available for distribution and the number of performances eligible for payment.