BMI Royalty Policy Manual
Last updated 01.15.2021
- Royalty Introduction
- General Royalty Information
- U.S. Radio Royalties
- U.S. Television Royalties
- International Royalties
- Compulsory License Fees
- Internet and Mobile Services
- Satellite Radio
- Commercial Music Services
- Live Concert Royalties
- General Licensing Venues
- Miscellaneous Royalty Rules
- Member Services
To BMI Songwriters, Composers, and Publishers:
Our Royalty Policy Manual (or RPM) has been designed to compile in a convenient, easy-to-read format most of the information you want to know about the method by which your BMI royalties are calculated and distributed. We also have included information regarding registering your works (“songs”) and services available to you. We trust that you will find it useful and informative. Should you at any time have any questions about the information contained in this handbook, or need clarification, do not hesitate to contact your local BMI Writer/Publisher Relations office for assistance.
General Royalty Information
Registering Your Works
BMI enters work registrations into its databases from one of two sources, (1) a BMI song registration form (formerly known as a clearance form) provided either electronically or on paper, or (2) a cue sheet which details all music written specifically for a film or television show, or other audio-visual work, typically prepared by the production company.
All songs must be submitted to BMI via a BMI registration form in order to receive credit for certain types of performances (e.g., all radio, commercial music services, commercial jingles and promotional announcements, live pop and classical concerts and Internet). Separate registrations need not be supplied to BMI for individual music cues (dramatic underscore) used in audio-visual programs. These will be automatically registered when the cue sheet is received and processed by BMI. You agree to notify BMI promptly if there are any errors or omissions contained in the registration information for your works or if the information, as it is set forth on the bmi.com website, is in any way inaccurate.
A registration received from any songwriter, composer or publisher of a work will suffice to credit all participants. If the publisher submits a registration, the writer does not have to submit one as well, and vice-versa. However, we strongly encourage each co-publisher of a work to submit its own song registration form in order to assure that the work is entered into the publisher’s correct BMI account. BMI will enter the work into its database for the shares and participants indicated on the first registration received. If a later registration is received for the same work which conflicts with the earlier registration, we will notify the party submitting the later registration and request documentation or written confirmation from all affected participants in conformity with BMI’s conflicting registration rules before changing our records.
In order for BMI to make payment on time for the public performance of your music, it is imperative that all registrations (both songs and cue sheets) be received as close to the performance date as possible. It is essential that you register all of your works in order that BMI can provide information about your entire catalogue to foreign performing rights organizations, and so that BMI may quickly and easily identify foreign royalties received on your behalf. Late registrations and cue sheets may cause royalties to be delayed and/or lost. It is your ultimate responsibility to make sure that work registrations and cue sheets are delivered to BMI in a timely fashion, even though you may rely upon others to provide them to BMI in the normal course of business. Also, you must affiliate with BMI prior to the time of the performance of your music in order to receive royalties. Late affiliations will cause royalties not to be paid.
Samples, Medleys and Parodies
BMI accepts for registration works which "sample" other works, provided all parties have agreed to the share percentages on the new work. These shares cannot exceed 200%. (See How Royalities Are Divided.) The percentages must be noted on the BMI registration form for the work and a copy of the sample license agreement must be provided to BMI upon request.
Standard rates for a popular song will be paid. The same rules apply when two or more works are utilized in a single recording as a medley.
A parody is a satirical imitation of a work. Permission from the owner of the copyright is generally required before commercial exploitation of a parody. BMI will credit the parody based upon the shares authorized by the publisher of the parodied work.
Spoken Word Material
Spoken word material with a musical background will be registered only if the music is original (not based on a Public Domain work) and if a substantial part of the recording contains background music. A recording must be submitted with the registration form.
Assignment of Works
A BMI publisher may assign a work to another BMI publisher as of the calendar quarter in which BMI receives notice of the assignment. However, BMI will not accept such assignment until all outstanding financial obligations or liabilities to BMI of the assigning publisher are adjusted appropriately.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, an assignment or transfer of control of a catalogue of works from one BMI publisher to another in connection with a sale, merger or otherwise will be subject to all of the terms and conditions of the agreement between BMI and the publisher whose works are sought to be assigned or transferred. For example, BMI will not recognize an assignment of works from one BMI publisher to another if the remainder of the term of the agreement between BMI and the publisher to which the assignment was made is shorter than remainder of the term of the agreement between BMI and the publisher which assigned the works. In such a case, BMI will maintain the assigned works in a special account of and pay any royalty earnings to the publisher to which the works were assigned. At the end of the term of the agreement between BMI and the assigning publisher, BMI will transfer the works to the catalogue of the publisher to whom the assignment was made upon its written request to BMI to do so.
Removal of Works
A publisher who seeks to remove any of its works from its BMI catalogue other than on account of an assignment to another BMI publisher (see Assignment of Works) may do so only as of the end of the current term of its agreement with BMI, upon notice to BMI by registered or certified mail not more than six months or less than three months prior to the end of the current term. However, no such withdrawal will be accepted until all outstanding financial obligations or liabilities to BMI of the publisher are adjusted appropriately. In addition, the withdrawal of any such work by the publisher will not affect the right of BMI to continue to license the interest of any other participants in the work.
Notwithstanding this removal, BMI may be authorized to license the interest of other participants in the work. In addition, you may receive distributions for performances that continue to be licensed under those licenses that were in effect prior to the removal of such works, if provided for in your affiliation agreement.
Definition of Licenses in Effect
Generally, if BMI has a final license agreement with a music user (licensee) and the license has not yet expired at the time your works are otherwise removed from BMI’s repertoire, BMI retains the right to license your works to that music user for the duration of their license agreement. Once the license agreement ends, the license is no longer in effect, and BMI will no longer license or distribute royalties to you for performances that occur under a subsequent license. For a complete definition of licenses in effect, please review your BMI Affiliation agreement.
Instrumental and Lyric Versions of the Same Work
BMI cannot undertake to distinguish between lyric and instrumental performances of a work unless the two versions bear different titles. If the lyric and instrumental versions are known by different titles, performances of the instrumental version will be credited solely to the songwriter or composer and to the publisher of the instrumental version unless BMI is notified by all parties involved of an agreement between them that the lyricist and the publisher of the lyric version are entitled to share in performance royalties of the instrumental version. Where the lyric and instrumental versions are known by the same title, the lyricist and the publisher of the lyric version will each be credited respectively with 100% of the applicable writer and publisher shares for all performances, unless BMI is notified by all participants of an agreement between them that the lyricist and the publisher of the lyric version are to be credited for a stated percentage of all performances.
How Royalties are Divided
BMI considers payments to songwriters or composers and to publishers as a single unit equal to 200%. Where there is the usual division of performance royalties between songwriters or composers and publishers, the total writers’ shares will be 100% (half of the available 200%), and the total publishers’ shares will be the remaining 100%.
Please note the following rules with respect to the division of the 200% royalty:
- The total publishers’ shares may not exceed 100%.
- If the agreement between the publishers and songwriters or composers provides for the songwriters or composers to receive more than 100%, the work should be registered with BMI indicating the percentages allocable to all songwriters or composers and all publishers so that the total is not more than 200%.
- Where no performing rights (or only partial performing rights) have been assigned to a publisher, the songwriters or composers will receive the entire 200% (or the balance of the entire 200%) in the same ratio as their respective writer shares. However, a songwriter or composer who has assigned to a publisher all or part of his or her proportionate rights in the publisher’s share shall not be entitled to receive any portion of the remainder of the publisher’s share allocable to his or her co-writer(s).
If BMI is notified subsequent to the initial registration that rights have been assigned to a publisher, BMI will credit the publisher with the appropriate share for performances beginning with the quarter in which such notice is received. No Retroactive Adjustments Will Be Made.
(Example: John and Mary wrote “Their Song” together. John signed a songwriter agreement with Music Publisher. Mary did not. When the work is registered with BMI, John will list his writer share as 50%, Mary will list her writer share as 100% (50% for her co-writer interest and 50% for her unassigned publisher interest) and Music Publisher will list its publisher share as 50% (for the publisher’s interest it obtained from John). If Mary later assigns her publisher interest to the same Music Publisher, Mary will notify BMI, her writer share will be reduced to 50% and Music Publisher will be paid 100% effective in the quarter that BMI received Mary’s notice.)
Wherever royalty rates are indicated in this document, the amount shown is the 200% royalty. In the typical case where all songwriters or composers have assigned their copyright in a work to publishers, half of the amount listed is paid to the songwriters or composers and half to the publishers.
BMI operates on a non-profit-making basis. All available income is distributed, except for a modest reserve.
Arrangements of Public Domain Works
Copyrighted arrangements of works in the public domain (classical and popular) will be credited at 20% of the otherwise applicable rate of payment for popular songs for all performances, with the exception of the Live Classical Concert distribution, where no payment is made for performances of arrangements of public domain works.
Payment for Uses in Unmonitored Sources
BMI collects license fees from tens of thousands of music users including, but not limited to, radio stations, broadcast television, cable and satellite providers, hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, sports arenas, theme parks, airlines, jukeboxes, retail stores and digital media music users such as internet websites and ring-back tone providers. BMI strives to distribute license fees derived from specific users of music to the songwriters, composers and publishers whose music is performed by those users. However, in cases where performance data is not available or is incomplete for any of the sources from which BMI collects fees, BMI may distribute those fees against performances from a source or sources where sufficient data is available. At any time, we may add a distribution source that was previously unmonitored, or remove a distribution source that was previously monitored, if the availability of accurate performance data changes.
No payment is currently made for the following types of performances in electronic media:
- Cue, bridge or background music on radio
- Partial performances of popular songs on radio
- Station IDs or public service announcements in any medium
- Promotional announcements on radio or on local broadcast, cable or satellite TV, except as otherwise indicated
However, BMI may voluntarily introduce payments for these categories at any time, at rates to be determined by BMI.
Frequency of Royalty Payments
BMI makes royalty distributions quarterly in January, March, June and September for all sources discussed in this document, with the exception of classical concerts and pay-per-view performances, which are paid once a year. We also may from time to time make special distributions should circumstances warrant. The distribution schedule is subject to change at BMI’s discretion.
If the total amount of royalties earned from all sources in any quarterly distribution is less than $250.00, BMI will hold the amount earned in the affiliate’s account until subsequent quarterly earnings in that year bring the total to $250.00 or more, when the accumulated money will be paid. However, in no event will BMI hold any such accumulated royalties beyond the final distribution of the calendar year in which they otherwise would have been paid, provided that the royalties that have accumulated equal at least $25.00. Due to the cost of distributing negligible royalties, if the total amount of royalties earned from all sources in any calendar year is less than $25.00, no payment will be made and no royalty statement will be rendered.
If an affiliate has enrolled for direct deposit, quarterly royalties of less than $2.00 will be accumulated and transferred to the specified bank account once the total reaches $2.00. No deposit will be made if the total amount of royalties earned from all sources in any calendar year is less than $2.00.
U.S. Radio Royalties
U.S. Radio Feature Performances
BMI considers a radio feature performance of a popular song to be one that lasts 60 seconds or more and is the sole sound broadcast at the time of the performance.
BMI makes separate payment for three categories of radio feature performances, based upon a sampling of stations licensed by BMI.
- COMMERCIAL RADIO
- CLASSICAL RADIO
- COLLEGE RADIO
BMI uses 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.
Royalties for performances of works in the BMI repertoire that occur on United States commercial radio stations will be paid according to the following rules:
Royalty payments will be based upon the license fees that BMI collected from each individual station that performed a work. As a result, royalty payment rates will vary from quarter to quarter depending upon the amount of the license fees collected from stations that aired each work during that quarter. In addition, the rates may fluctuate from quarter to quarter depending upon the total dollar amount available for each quarter’s commercial radio distribution.
In furtherance of BMI’s tradition of serving writers and publishers of all types of music, BMI’s long-standing goal — to support all affiliates with distribution methodologies that fairly value their creative efforts — has not changed. Accordingly, supplemental criteria may be used to establish an increased valuation for certain works performed on U.S. commercial radio stations. A small additional allocation from the amount available for distribution each quarter, which will include funds received by BMI from General Licensing and other income sources, may be used for this purpose. Such allocations will appear in the Hit Song Bonus column of the BMI royalty statement.
Under the BMI radio payment system, each feature work, including those written for films and the theater, can become eligible for up to three distinct royalty payment components each quarter. They are called the CURRENT ACTIVITY PAYMENT, the HIT SONG BONUS and the STANDARDS BONUS.
No payment is currently made for the following types of performances on non-census reporting stations:
- Cue, bridge or background music
- Partial performances of popular songs
- Station IDs or public service announcements
- Promotional announcements
However, BMI may voluntarily introduce payments for these categories at any time, at rates to be determined by BMI.
The Current Activity Payment
All works in the BMI repertoire that are performed on radio will be eligible for a Current Activity Payment. BMI calculates a unique royalty rate for each work, which is based upon the license fees collected from stations that performed that work in combination with the number of times each work aired on those stations. For example, if one of your works was performed on 200 radio stations during a quarter, its unique rate is calculated based upon the license fees collected by BMI from those 200 stations. If another work in your catalogue was performed on 2,000 stations in the same quarter, that work’s rate will be different because it will be based upon the license fees collected from those 2,000 stations. All works that were reported to BMI as having been performed on radio during a quarter, regardless of how many times each of the works was performed, are eligible for the Current Activity Payment. The substantial majority of the amount available for distribution each quarter will be used to make Current Activity Payments.
The Hit Song Bonus
Due to their overall current popularity, works that are classified as Hit Songs are eligible for additional royalties. Any work that is performed more than 95,000 times during a quarter is eligible for a Hit Song Bonus. BMI will allocate a portion of the amount available for distribution each quarter for commercial radio performances to the Hit Song Bonus, and each eligible work will receive a pro-rata portion of the Hit Song Bonus allocation according to the actual number of its current quarter’s performances. As a result, works with higher current quarter performance counts earn larger Hit Song Bonus royalties than those works with lower current quarter performance counts.
The Standards Bonus
Due to their sustained long-term presence on radio station playlists throughout the country, works that have been performed on United States commercial radio stations at least 2.5 million times since being released and have a minimal number of current quarter performances are classified as Standards and, as such, become eligible for the Standards Bonus. Works in this category share the Standards Bonus royalties in pro-rata fashion according to the actual number of cumulative historical commercial radio performances for each work in combination with its performances in the current quarter. Works with the higher combination of cumulative historical and current quarter commercial radio performance counts earn larger Standards Bonus royalties than those with the lower combinations of such performances.
Effective July 1st 2020, BMI makes royalty payments for short duration detections (SDD) using sound recording detections provided by its vendor, Soundmouse, in conjunction with BMI’s works database of registered compositions. Soundmouse provides information about the recordings used in short duration radio performances, and BMI’s identification process and works database determine the underlying compositions to be paid.
Short-duration detections represent performances of your songs that aired for less than 60 seconds.
It is necessary to register your compositions with BMI in order to receive any kind of royalty payment. However, to be paid SDD royalties, it is also necessary to ensure that Soundmouse has copies of any recording embodying your composition that might be played on commercial radio. All major record labels, sound recording distributors, and production libraries have been submitting their content to Soundmouse for several years, and Soundmouse’s reference library is therefore already quite extensive. As a result, it should only be necessary to upload recordings to Soundmouse if they are not distributed commercially or otherwise made available through one of the production libraries, but you should confirm with your label, distributor, or production library if you have any questions or concerns. If you would like to create a Soundmouse account in order to upload recordings that haven’t been delivered through existing relationships, or to manage metadata associated with recordings that you previously uploaded, please visit www.Soundmouse.com/BMI.
Royalty payments are based upon the license fees that BMI collects from the individual stations that have aired short duration performances. Other factors include the number of performances of each individual song relative to the total number of all payable performances for all songs. Thus, payments rates will fluctuate from quarter to quarter. Short-duration detections do not increase your cumulative performance totals for full feature detections of your BMI songs and are not eligible to earn Hit Song Bonus royalties or Standard Bonus royalties.
There are special rules for classical works. A classical work is defined 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, each performance will be paid at the minimum rate of 32 cents per minute total for all participants.
Payment is made for feature performances of a song on radio stations that are affiliated with colleges and universities at a minimum rate of 6 cents total for all participants.
U.S. Television Royalties
U.S. Audio Visual Royalties
Performance Sources Covered
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.
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.
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.
BMI TV Operations
10 Music Square East
Nashville, TN 37203
Types of Uses
For Audio Visual Sources, BMI categorizes performances as listed below:
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
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”.
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.
A performance of music regularly accompanying the visual identification of a production company or program distributor.
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.
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.
A commercial jingle is a work (either pre-existing or specifically written for an advertiser) used to advertise products and/or services.
BMI pays for music contained in commercials for compositions greater than five seconds when appearing in nationally broadcasted commercial jingles on networks, cable networks and local television on a limited basis. At this time, BMI does not pay for music contained in locally inserted commercial jingles on any television broadcast.
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.
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.
BMI has reciprocal agreements with performing rights organizations (PROs) throughout the world that allow those PROs to license your works and collect fees on your behalf when your music is performed outside of the United States. The foreign PROs calculate payments to BMI composers, songwriters and publishers in accordance with their own distribution rules and remit royalty payments to BMI for those songwriters, composers and publishers listed in an international index as being affiliated with BMI or whose works have been reported by BMI to the foreign PROs. International royalties are distributed quarterly by BMI after the deduction of an administrative fee, which is currently 3.6%, but which is subject to change at any time.
Compulsory License Fees
Approximately once a year, BMI receives royalties from the U.S. Copyright Office for BMI music performed on distant-signal broadcast television stations that were carried by cable television systems beyond their local market (e.g., superstation WGN-Chicago when retransmitted to markets outside of Chicago) and for music performed in broadcast television signals retransmitted by satellite carriers outside their local markets. BMI distributes this money to those songwriters, composers and publishers whose music is contained in a select group of these broadcast television signals.
BMI additionally receives a modest amount of royalties from the compulsory copyright royalties paid by manufacturers and distributors of certain digital audio home recording devices and blank recording media (DART royalties). BMI distributes these DART royalties using performance information available to BMI.
For information on compulsory license fees received from National Public Radio and Public Television, please see below.
National Public Radio
The royalty rates paid for performances on National Public Radio (NPR) programs and other noncommercial radio stations are based upon a portion of license fees received by BMI from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), as compared to the total number of monitored performances of BMI works on NPR stations. As a result, the royalty rates change each quarter, as a different number of performances is paid from the amount of fees received.
Public Television (PBS)
BMI receives compulsory license fees for performances of music on public broadcasting television stations and distributes the fees derived from this source to those songwriters, composers and publishers whose music is broadcast on public TV stations. Rates vary from quarter to quarter depending on the amount of the license fee collected and the base value of BMI performances tabulated during a quarter. The value of a performance on a PBS station could be higher or lower than the Local Television Daypart A rates, depending on the factors noted above. The methodology and relative weightings of the Local Television rates are used to begin the calculation.
Internet and Mobile Services
BMI licenses certain digital music services and is seeking to license many more. In addition, BMI has licenses with most major mobile entertainment providers. As these mediums for licensing and distribution continue to evolve, policies are being established as to how streams are to be tabulated and royalties are to be distributed. To the extent that music usage information has been submitted to us, we will distribute royalties for streams of your music over digital music services licensed by BMI.
Specific to digital music services, works can become eligible for both a CURRENT ACTIVITY PAYMENT as well as a STREAMING HITS BONUS.
The Current Activity Payment
All works in the BMI repertoire that are performed on a digital music service will be eligible for a Current Activity Payment. BMI calculates a unique royalty rate for each work, which is based upon the license fees collected from the service that performed the work in combination with the number of times each work streamed on the service.
The Streaming Hits Bonus
Beginning with the Q1 2015 Performances, BMI has implemented a new value system for the most-streamed works on digital services. For the applicable service BMI will calculate a bonus on a per-stream basis for the most streamed BMI works. Note, the bonus funds comes from a general licensing pool, not directly from digital music service fees, which has been the industry practice since BMI opened its doors. The new value system will begin with royalties distributed in September 2015. Additional services will be added going forward.
BMI uses a “follow-the-dollar” distribution methodology for SiriusXM® satellite radio services. Royalty rates are calculated using performance data provided to BMI by SiriusXM® in combination with the BMI license fees collected for the service.
The SiriusXM® Bonus
BMI has implemented a new value system for the most-played works on SiriusXM® channels, beginning with Q4 2018 performances. Bonuses will be based on a number of factors including performance counts across all SiriusXM® channels, and the number of channels on which a song is performed. BMI derives the bonus funds from a general licensing pool, not directly from SiriusXM® licensing fees, which has been the industry practice since BMI opened its doors. This new value system begins with royalties distributed in June 2019.
Commercial Music Services
BMI uses a “follow-the-dollar” distribution methodology for commercial music services. Royalty rates for commercial music services such as DMX, Muzak, Music Choice and PlayNetwork are calculated using performance data provided to BMI by each music service in combination with the BMI license fees collected for each music service. License fees for other background music services may be aggregated. License fees available for royalty distribution for each music service include license fees associated with the affiliates of that music service. When small independent music services fail to provide BMI with usable performance information, appropriate surrogate performance information is used to calculate your royalties.
Live Concert Royalties
BMI uses an independent source of live pop concert information to identify and create a database of the top 300 concert tours and/or concert events/festivals each quarter. Set lists are solicited from headliners and opening acts performing at those events. A royalty payment is then calculated for each BMI-licensed work performed at each event. This calculation is based upon the license fees collected from each licensed tour or event. Works performed as part of a medley; or as walk in, walk out, interlude, intro or “non-feature” music that is integral to the tour by either a headliner or opening act will be paid at a rate equal to one half of the full rate. Since the number of BMI-licensed works changes from one quarter to the next, as do the license fees collected by BMI from concert promoters and venues, the royalty rate for your works performed in live pop concerts will also change each quarter.
BMI pays royalties for original classical works performed at live classical concerts in the U.S. that are presented by entities licensed by BMI under classical and symphonic licenses. Payment is based upon a census of all eligible concert programs received from these licensees. The rates are determined annually based upon the fees received from classical licensing and the total number of BMI works performed.
In our continuing efforts to ensure that songwriters performing in live music venues receive royalties at every stage of their careers, BMI has launched BMI Live, a program enabling those songwriters to register their concerts and set lists online to be considered for payment. To qualify, songwriters need to register their live musical performances on BMI.com/live. BMI will pay royalties to both writers and publishers via direct deposit. The distribution from BMI Live will be made quarterly; updates on the program are available on the BMI Live page.
General Licensing Venues
BMI distributes license fees collected from aircraft or aircraft music services quarterly when your musical works are used during flight. BMI uses performance information provided to create a database of BMI-licensed works that are eligible to receive a royalty payment. Since the number of BMI-licensed works, as well as the amount of the license fees collected by BMI, changes from quarter to quarter, the royalty rate for works performed in-flight likewise will vary from quarter to quarter.
BMI distributes license fees collected from professional sports teams and leagues (e.g., NFL, NHL, MLB) for the public performance of your musical works in stadiums during live games. BMI uses performance information provided by the professional sports teams/leagues to create a database of BMI-licensed works that are eligible to receive a royalty payment. Since the number of BMI-licensed works and the amount of the license fees collected by BMI change from one year to another, the royalty rate for works performed during these games likewise varies with each distribution.
BMI distributes license fees collected from certain Theme Parks on an annual schedule when reliable performance information is available. BMI uses performance information collected to create a database of BMI-licensed works that are eligible to receive a royalty payment. Since the number of BMI-licensed works, as well as the amount of the license fees collected by BMI, changes from period to period, the royalty rate for works performed at certain Theme Parks likewise will vary from period to period.
Miscellaneous Royalty Rules
Direct Licensing of Works
If a songwriter, composer or publisher directly licenses to a user or source licenses to a production company the right to perform one or more works, BMI must be notified in writing within ten days of the issuance of the license or within three months of the performance, whichever comes first.
A copy of the license should be attached to the notification (with the amount paid for the license deleted, if desired). As license fees for direct or source licensed performances cannot be collected by BMI, no royalties will be paid by BMI for these performances. If the direct or source license includes performances for periods for which BMI has already paid royalties because we were unaware that such a license had been issued, a debit will be made to the songwriters’ or composers’ and the publishers’ accounts with respect to such performances.
All claims for adjustments to royalty distributions must be made in writing to your local Writer/Publisher Relations office within nine months of the date of the distribution seeking to be adjusted. Adjustments to royalties which were or should have been paid more than nine months before notice of the claim is received by BMI will not be considered.
BMI will prepare timely-requested adjustments to U.S. royalty distributions in those situations where royalties were paid incorrectly, as long as the total amount of the adjustment likely will exceed $25. If no payment was made because of missing/late cue sheets or work registrations, royalties will be paid beginning with the first possible distribution after all documents are received and processed, provided that they are received within nine months after the distribution in which royalties otherwise would have been paid had the necessary documents been submitted to BMI in a timely fashion.
Because many foreign PROs have strict cutoff dates beyond which they will not consider adjustment requests, all claims for foreign adjustments should be submitted in writing within nine months of the date of the foreign distribution in which royalties were incorrectly paid or expected royalties were missing, along with detailed information about the incorrect or missing payments. BMI will research the matter and request an adjustment, where appropriate, from the foreign PRO, provided that the amount expected to be received from the foreign PRO will exceed $25. Any additional royalties received from the foreign PRO as a result of BMI’s adjustment request will be remitted to you as part of the next possible distribution following receipt of the royalties by BMI.
Overpayment of Royalties
In the event that royalties are paid in error to any writer or publisher, BMI will debit the mistakenly-paid affiliate’s account in the amount of the overpayment. In addition, if based upon past BMI earnings history and projected future royalty earnings from BMI, there is no reasonable expectation that BMI will be able to fully recoup the overpaid amount within the four distribution quarters following the debit, the affiliate will be expected to repay on request the balance of the overpayment that remains unrecouped. In the event that BMI makes a royalty distribution based upon interim fees received from a licensee and the final fees subsequently determined to be payable by that licensee are less than the interim fees upon which the distribution was based, BMI reserves the right to debit all writers and publishers to whom such interim fees were distributed in an amount that appropriately reflects the difference between the interim and final license fees.
Payment From Another Organization
In the event that BMI has reason to believe that you will receive or are receiving payment from a performing rights organization other than BMI for or based upon United States performances of one or more works for a period when those works were licensed by BMI for you, BMI shall have the right to withhold payment from you for such performances until BMI receives satisfactory evidence that you have not been paid or will not be paid by the other organization. In the event that you were or will be paid or do not supply such evidence within 12 months from the date of BMI’s request, BMI shall be under no obligation to make any payment to you for performances of such works for that period.
Assignments of Royalties
BMI will recognize an assignment of your royalties to a third party in certain circumstances, including to a lending institution or other person or entity who makes a bona fide loan of a specific sum of money to you which is intended to be repaid, in whole or in part, from your BMI royalties. A special loan assignment form, executed by both you and the lender and acknowledged by BMI, must be completed and signed before BMI will pay your royalties to the lender. The form can be obtained from your local Writer/Publisher Relations office. There is no fee to update BMI’s records to reflect temporary loan assignments.
BMI also will accept certain irrevocable permanent assignments of royalties to a third party who purchases your royalty income stream. BMI requires the completion of and your signature before a Notary Public on the BMI Royalty Assignment Form (RAF) and an IRS Form W-9 from the purchaser. The current fee for handling these kinds of assignments is $500 for each payee account that must be established to redirect your royalties and will be deducted from the first monies due the purchaser. The fee is $250 if the assignment is made to your solely-owned corporation, LLC or trust. The RAF can be downloaded from the forms page on bmi.com. Please note that BMI’s acceptance of permanent assignments is subject to specific limitations and conditions.
Royalties Withheld Due to Litigation
If BMI is named as a party to a lawsuit, BMI may withhold royalties relating to that dispute. Further, BMI will withhold royalties earned by any works that are the subject of litigation, upon receipt of a copy of the complaint as filed with the court and a written directive to BMI from the court requiring such withholding.
In addition, upon the written request of any affiliate whose royalties are being withheld, when accumulated royalties exceed $1,000, the royalties will be transferred to an interest-bearing bank account, at money-market rates. All such principal and interest is remitted to the writer(s) and/or publisher(s) who are determined by final, unappealable decision, or by settlement between the litigants, to be entitled to the funds, upon submission to BMI of a copy of the final court order or settlement documents.
In lieu of the withholding of royalties during litigation, BMI will accept a letter of direction, signed by all parties to the lawsuit, to pay the royalties to a third party escrow agent as they become payable. In such case, the royalties will not generate interest through BMI.
Legal Process Administration Charges
Due to BMI’s increased costs in handling legal process that is received against certain affiliates, it has become necessary to institute an administration fee for such matters. If BMI is served with a state or federal tax levy, restraining notice, order to withhold, judgment, child support order, or the like against you which requires BMI to hold or pay your royalties to another party who has a legal entitlement to them, you will be assessed a handling fee of $100 (or such lesser amount as may be required by the authority issuing the process). The $100 fee will be deducted from the next royalty distribution of each affected account following adjustment of BMI’s records to reflect the process. The handling fee will be assessed for each new process received, except that you will not be charged an additional fee if BMI receives updated process while previous process for the same obligation is still in force according to BMI’s records.
If you are obtaining a divorce and you request BMI to separately account to you and your ex-spouse with respect to works for which royalties are divided between you (or if BMI is provided with a copy of your signed divorce decree that contemplates such separate accountings), a fee of $250 will be charged to update your account if you have 500 or less registrations (feature works and cues) to be divided. If there are more than 500 registrations to be divided, the charge is $250 for the first 500, then $1 per registration thereafter.
Stop Payments And Re-Issuance Of Royalty Checks
An oral request to BMI to stop payment of and reissue a royalty check will be accepted, but the request must be confirmed in writing and received by BMI within two days of the oral request. An administrative charge of $30 will be deducted from the amount of the reissued check. Stop payment orders cannot be accepted, however, for royalties which have been directly deposited into the payee’s bank account.
Direct Deposit of Royalties
Your royalty payments can be deposited directly to your checking or savings account. You can sign up online for direct deposit of your royalties, which provides you with quick access to your royalty payments without the worry of waiting for checks to arrive, cashing them or misplacing them. Sign up at the Online Services area of the website, https://www.bmi.com/login.
Electronic Transfer of Information
BMI encourages the use of electronic transfer of information related to work registrations, cue sheets, and affiliate receipt of royalty statements. The exchange of electronic information is based on established industry and specific BMI standards. Please contact your local Writer/Publisher Relations office for more information to participate in any of these services, or check bmi.com for future developments.
BMI’s website, bmi.com, contains many features that keep you posted on happenings in the music business, new BMI services, legislation that affects your royalties and copyrights, and other useful information. Songwriters, composers, and sole proprietorship publishers can access their song catalogues and royalty statements online.