Joining BMI is an important early step in an aspiring songwriter, composer and/or artist’s career. If you have written at least one musical composition, either by yourself or with others, and the composition is currently being performed or is likely to be performed soon, you should join BMI. An official “public performance” can be live or recorded, and occurs when your musical composition is performed on the radio, television, or the Internet, as well as in live music venues, clubs, and in other public performances.
A songwriter or composer is the creator of a work, which is a song, score or other musical composition. A publisher, on the other hand, is an individual or company that owns or administers the copyright of a work. The writer or creator of the work must assign the copyright to a publisher in order for that publisher to claim ownership.
BMI is committed to protecting copyright to ensure that its songwriters, composers and music publishers are fairly compensated for the use of their work. BMI also values its relationships with those businesses that use music, offering access to the world’s most popular music for hundreds of thousands of licensees throughout the United States.
Additionally, BMI is dedicated to fostering new talent. The organization’s layered approach to songwriter development comprises educational, creative and promotional opportunities:
BMI stages showcases all over the country. Weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually, these series highlight both bold new voices and established hit-makers: 8 off 8th, Acoustic Lounge, Pick of the Month, Noche Mexicana, DRINKSHOP Live!, Unsigned Urban Showcase, East Side Sounds, BMI/Hit Sheet Showcase, BMI Buzz at the Basement and Verano Alternativo are just a few of the showcases organized by BMI’s regional offices.
Festivals and Conferences
BMI books stages and performance slots at premier festivals and conferences throughout the year, including SXSW, MOBfest, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, CMJ, Austin City Limits Music Festival, Key West Songwriters Festival, Monitor Latino, ATHfest, Florida Music Festival, Music Matters Asia, Martha’s Vineyard Songwriters Festival, Sandestin Songwriters Festival, Americana Music Festival & Conference, Tin Pan South, International Bluegrass Music Association Festival & Conference, numerous Billboard-led conferences, and more.
From BMI-coined events like the How I Wrote That Song, Coffee Talk and Music 101 series, to in-depth conversations at top tier festivals including Sundance and SXSW, BMI panels offer insight from insiders throughout the year.
Held in New York City, the Tony award-winning BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop is an elite creative hub that nurtures the brightest new talent within the musical theatre community. The BMI Jazz Composers Workshop, now in its second decade, was formed to foster composition for the jazz big band. The BMI Songwriters Workshop with Jason Blume offers a building-block style curriculum designed to supply songwriters with invaluable creative tips and business counsel. Staged monthly in Nashville, is open to all songwriters who are serious about and committed to successful commercial songwriting. BMI 101 is an hour-long introductory workshop for writers and publishers, which discusses the history of performing right, the origins of BMI and the current role BMI plays in the complex, ever-evolving music industry. The BMI Conductor’s Workshop is a four-week course taught by conductor Lucas Richman for BMI composers who are looking to refine their conducting skills.
Although some performing right organizations collect annual dues, BMI does not. Instead, there is a one-time application fee of $150 to register a publishing company that is owned by an individual, and $250 for a publishing company that is a partnership, corporation (including sole stockholder corporations) and/or limited liability company. The fee is due when the publishing company is initially set up, and it is neither refundable nor deductible from future earnings. To get started visit our Join page.
One half is designated for the songwriter(s), and the other half is designated for the publisher(s) or copyright holder(s). Learn more about how BMI pays royalties. If you do not have a publisher, you will also receive the publisher’s share as a writer.
If you are just getting started, you will not need to set up a publishing company. Creating a publishing company will not mean that you receive more royalties. You are not leaving any royalties on the table.
The BMI Foundation, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation founded in 1985, is dedicated to encouraging the creation, performance and study of music through awards, scholarships, internships, grants, and commissions.
BMI is proud to offer options for life, medical, dental and musical instrument insurance coverage to its songwriters, composers and music publishers. Details are available in the “Platinum Privileges” area of our site.
BMI members can avoid any delay in receiving royalty payments by signing up for Direct Deposit to their bank account. Direct Deposit offers instant access to your royalty payments without the worry of waiting for checks to arrive, cashing them or misplacing them. When signing up for this benefit, you can also help us in our efforts to “go green” by choosing to receive your royalty statement electronically. Applications for these programs are available within Online Services.
BMI offers a broad spectrum of discounts created specifically for its members, including savings on subscriptions, educational programs, professional gear and financial services like the City National Bank Loan Program.
News & BMI MusicWorld
BMI provides a steady stream of music industry news that affects its family of songwriters, composers and music publishers through: BMI.com/news, and BMI’s MusicWorld. From the latest round of Grammy winners and career advice to in-depth profiles of music’s chart-toppers, BMI’s publications strive to keep the BMI family informed.
BMI members can avoid any delay in receiving royalty payments by signing up for Direct Deposit to their bank account.
Direct Deposit offers instant access to your royalty payments without the worry of waiting for checks to arrive, cashing them or misplacing them. When signing up for these benefits, you can also help us in our efforts to “go green” by choosing to receive your royalty statement electronically. Applications for these programs are available within Online Services.
BMI royalties are performing right royalties, which are earned when a musical work is performed publicly. Public performance occurs when a song is sung or played, recorded or live, on radio and television, as well as through other media such as the Internet, live concerts and programmed music services. BMI grants licenses to perform, use or broadcast music from its extensive repertoire to hundreds of thousands of users of music in public places, such as radio and tv stations, hotels, clubs, colleges, restaurants, stores, and more.
The “mechanical” right is the right to reproduce a piece of music onto CDs, DVDs, records or tapes. (Non-mechanical reproduction includes such things as making sheet music, for which royalties are paid by the publisher to the composer.)
When reproduction of music is made onto a soundtrack of a film or TV show, the reproduction is called “synchronization,” and the license that the TV or film producer needs to obtain is called a synchronization, or “sync,” license.
Mechanical royalties and synchronization fees are paid by record companies and film and TV producers directly to the copyright owner, usually the publisher, or his or her representative. The Harry Fox Agency, 601 West 26th Street, New York, NY 10001, (212) 675-2707, harryfox.com, represents many U.S. publishers in granting mechanical and synchronization licenses and collecting fees for them from the record companies and producers who need them.
BMI conducts music showcases nationwide and offers a variety of professional development seminars, but we cannot get your songs placed on the radio. Publishers, labels, managers and other outside executives may help you find new outlets for your work, but as a performing right organization, BMI’s focus is fair payment and copyright protection for our songwriters, composers and music publishers.
First of all, congratulations! Now, you need to make sure your work is registered. As soon as a song is published and/or recorded, it should be registered with and reported to BMI. BMI’s ability to license and monitor the performances of a composition is dependent upon the accuracy and timeliness of this reported information. Without it, you may miss out on royalties.
Typically, a publisher will register songs for songwriters. Early registration of works will help prevent lost royalties, so make sure your songs are registered.
If you have moved, it is important that you update your address. You can change your both your postal address and your email address online within your Online Services account. See more information on updating your address.
Your composition is copyrighted automatically when the work is “created,” which the law defines as being “fixed” in a copy or a recording for the first time. The registration of your copyright is recommended, but not required. BMI does not copyright works for you.
If you wish to copyright your works, which we recommend, visit copyright.gov.
The exclusive right of the copyright owner, granted by the U.S. Copyright Law, to authorize the performance or transmission of the work in public.
Public Performance License
BMI issues licenses on behalf of the copyright owner or his agent granting the right to perform the work in, or transmit the work to, the public.
The exclusive right of the copyright owner, granted by the Copyright Act, to authorize the reproduction of a musical work as in a record, cassette or CD.
Harry Fox Agency, Inc. issues licenses on behalf of the copyright owner or his agent, usually to a record company, granting the record company the right to reproduce and distribute a specific composition at an agreed upon fee per unit manufactured and sold.
Music Publishers issue licenses as copyright owner or his agent, usually to a producer, granting the right to synchronize the musical composition in timed relation with audio-visual images on film or videotape.
Publisher information is available from our online repertoire search. If you need further assistance in locating complete publisher information, please contact our Research Department. You can also call the BMI repertoire information hotline at 1-800-800-9313 where you can request information on 3 song titles per call.
Registering your copyrights is not required but it is highly recommended since doing so will give you certain protection under copyright law in case you need to sue someone for using your song without your permission.
Registering songs with the Library of Congress puts your claim of authorship on the public record and may help if ever there is a dispute over credit or timing.
Of course, the Library of Congress does not provide legal defense in the face of stolen or infringed material, but can provide written or recorded documentation of your copyright should the need arise.
Yes, we have a rich, full-featured mobile-optimized version of our award-winning website optimized for all modern mobile phones, devices and browsers. Mobile users will see the new mobile site automatically when viewing our website.
In fact, BMI was the first performing right company in the world to offer a mobile-optimized web presence.
BMI Live is a new program designed for the BMI performing songwriter to log-in to their online account through BMI.com and submit their set lists for their performances in all venues across the country.
Setlists can be entered online via BMI.com or the BMI Mobile app. All you need to do is log into your BMI account and click the BMI Live link. Only the performing songwriter can enter performance details in BMI Live. BMI publishers are eligible for payment under BMI Live but do not have access to the BMI Live application for data entry.
You are required to participate in direct deposit to get paid through BMI Live. Sign up and manage your direct deposit simply by logging in to your BMI.com account or access BMI Mobile for Android or Apple iOS.
You can enter your performance information as often as you’d like. You will be able to enter dates for up to 2 quarters prior to the current quarter. You will be able to see the available entry dates as soon as you log in to BMI Live.
Rates per performance each quarter are determined by a combination of the number of performances reported during the payment period and the general licensing fees available for distribution for BMI Live performances. 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 BMI Live works likewise will vary from quarter to quarter. For more information on BMI and royalties see “How We Pay Royalties”.
Native apps, or applications, available from Apple’s iTunes App Store and Google Play. These apps have all the features of our mobile optimized website as well as the benefits of being fully-native applications that can be launched just like any other app on your device.
A mobile optimized website that works great on all modern smartphones. This is a special version of BMI’s award-winning website, BMI.com, which has been designed specifically for the mobile environment, drawing on the content and features of our main website.
Someone from the family of the deceased or a designated heir must complete the BMI Estate Questionnaire that gives us the necessary information regarding individuals who may be eligible as beneficiaries of the copyright royalties that BMI distributes. For more information see the BMI Estates page.
Although your song is technically copyrighted as soon as you finish writing it, it’s still a good idea to register that copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office. Registering a song with BMI will only allow you to receive performance royalties if that song gets performed; it does not give you protection under copyright law.
BMI Live can only be used for domestic performances at this time. If you are performing outside of the US, you can download and submit a Foreign Live Performance Notification Form from our the Forms page.
At this time BMI Live can only be used for domestic performances. BMI writers performing outside of the US should download and complete the Foreign Live Performance Notification Form available on the Forms page.
Yes, you should include cover songs. However, only cover songs within the BMI Live database will be eligible for royalty payments under the BMI Live program. When entering a new performance, just click “Add cover song to your setlist” to select a cover song from the BMI Live database of cover songs.
Our Music Licenses offer copyright clearance to use all of the works in the BMI repertoire in a variety of ways. This service saves music users the immense time and expense of contacting each songwriter or composer for permission to play their music publicly.
Although most people buy digital audio files, CDs, or games like Guitar Hero thinking they are now their property, there is a distinction in the law between owning a copy of the music and owning the actual songs that are played. When you buy an audio file, software, or CD, even those specifically marketed for business purposes, the purchase price covers only your private listening use, regardless of how they are labeled. Once you decide to play any copyrighted music publicly, you need permission from the copyright owners.
A “public performance” of music is defined in the U.S. copyright law to include any music played outside a normal circle of friends and family. Songwriters, composers, and music publishers have the exclusive right to play their music publicly and to authorize others to do so under the copyright law. This is known as the “Performing Right”. This right was designed to enable and encourage music creators to continue to create music.
When you see the words “All Rights Reserved” on a movie that you’ve rented or purchased, you know that playing that movie before a public audience is prohibited. The same restrictions apply to music that is purchased, broadcast, or live musicians that are hired to play in a public setting. Every business or organization must receive permission from the copyright owners of the music they are playing before playing it publicly.
A music license with another performing right organization allows you to perform only copyrighted music represented by that organization. It does not cover public performances of the award-winning music licensed by BMI. This is because each songwriter or composer may belong to only one performing right organization at any given time, so each PRO licenses a unique repertoire of music.
The term “original music” generally means musical works written by the performing musicians. That doesn’t mean, however, that the musicians are not affiliated with BMI. This is because licensing organizations like BMI are the vehicles through which songwriters and composers are compensated for the public performances of their music. In addition, one of the purposes of BMI is to help foster the development of up-and-coming songwriters, many of whom perform in public areas and establishments. Many times, these performers are asked to play a song known by the general public that was written by someone else to add to the entertainment. This performance also requires permission.
Since it’s the business or organization that’s benefiting from the performance of music, management is responsible for ensuring that the organization is properly licensed. This responsibility cannot be passed on to anyone else even if the musicians hired are independent contractors.
They are, however, those agreements do not authorize the performance of such TV, cable, and radio to the public by businesses and other organizations.
Public performances of radio and TV are specifically addressed in Title 17, Section 110(5)(B) of the U.S. copyright law which states that any food service or drinking establishment that is 3750 square feet or larger, or any other establishment, other than a food service or drinking establishment, that is 2000 square feet or larger, must secure public performance rights for TVs or radios if any of the following conditions apply:
• For TV, if the business is using:
more than four TVs; or
more than one TV in any one room; or
if any of the TVs used has a diagonal screen size greater than 55 inches; or
if any audio portion of the audiovisual performance is communicated by means of more than six loudspeakers, or four loudspeakers in any one room or adjoining outdoor space; or
if there is any cover charge.
• For radio, if the business is using:
more than six loudspeakers; or
more than four loudspeakers in any one room or adjoining outdoor space; or
Approximately one out of every two songs played on radio is BMI-licensed music. In addition to the music of our U.S. copyright owners, the BMI repertoire also includes the music of songwriters and composers in more than 90 other countries. BMI writers have won numerous GRAMMYs, Country Music Association, and American Music Awards. They also represent the largest percentage of inductees into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, account for roughly one-half of all of the winners of the coveted Pulitzer Prize in the field of classical music, and have received the most Rhythm & Blues Foundation Pioneer Awards and Downbeat Jazz Poll Awards.
For a list of BMI’s award-winning song titles and songwriters please visit our online repertoire search or call the BMI repertoire information line at 1-800-800-9313 where you can request information on specific titles.
BMI operates on a non-profit-making basis and does not make any profit on licensing fees. All fees, less BMI’s operating expenses, are paid to our affiliated songwriters, composers, and music publishers in the form of royalties. Currently, nearly 90 cents of every dollar of your licensing fee goes to our affiliated copyright owners.
A BMI License provides you with the legal authorization you need to use a very powerful product – music. This product is the music creator’s property, so a licensing agreement protects your business or organization from the penalties involved in copyright infringement. Your payment of music licensing fees ensures the continued creation of music – for you and your organization.
BMI offers the ability to license most businesses and organizations online. Simply choose your business type and click “Apply for a License”, then enter your Username & Password, which are provided for you on your correspondence from BMI or by calling a BMI representative. Once licensed, you can also pay your fee and manage your account online. If your business type does not yet have BMI online licensing capability, you can download a license from the site and return it to BMI at 10 Music Square East, Nashville, TN 37203 or call a BMI representative at (888) 689-5264 to license.
BMI Live es un programa nuevo diseñado para cantautores de BMI que se presentan en vivo para poder conectarse a su cuenta en línea de BMI.com e introducir su listas de canciones (setlist) de presentaciones a través del país.
Para ser elegible para los pagos de regalías en el marco del programa de BMI Live, una presentación debe ser considerada como una “ejecución pública” que está cubierta por las licencias existentes de BMI.
No subvencionables presentaciones que no se tendrán en cuenta para el pago de regalías incluyen, pero no están limitadas a:
Las recepciones de bodas, fiestas de cumpleaños, fiestas de aniversario, etc.
Presentaciones en sitios de Internet.
Presentaciones durante servicios religiosos. Nota: Presentaciones en eventos de la iglesia que están fuera de la iglesia “tiempos normales de servicio” son elegibles para pagos de regalías.
Cara a cara, las actividades docentes en instituciones educativas.
Presentaciones a estudiantes de escuelas primarias.
Ferias del Estado o del condado.
Conciertos privados de casa.
Presentaciones no autorizadas por permiso de la ciudad en parques o áreas públicas. (Esto incluye presentaciones en la calle).
Las presentaciones de música clásica. Nota: Presentaciones de música clásica se incluyen en una distribución de las regalías por separado.
Presentaciones de música de dominio público (incluyendo el Himno Nacional en eventos.)
Radio en vivo o espectáculos de televisión. Nota: la radio en vivo o espectáculos de televisión se incluyen en una distribución de las regalías por separado de TV / Radio.
Presentaciones en los Parques de Atracciones: Disney, Universal & Dollywood. Nota: Presentaciones en Parques de Atracciones se incluyen en una distribución de regalías por separado.
Las distribuciones de BMI Live tendrán lugar cada tres meses con inicio de la primera distribución en junio del 2011, que abarca presentaciones que se producen entre 7/1/10-12/31/10 y que son sometidas en el sistema de BMI Live por los cantautores antes del 03/31/2011. Los pagos posteriores siguen un calendario trimestral similar. Vea el calendario de distribución de pagos a continuación.
La Lista de Canciones (Setlist) se puede someter en línea visitando la página BMI.com o a través de la aplicación de su teléfono móvil. Todo lo que necesita hacer es ingresar a su cuenta BMI y oprima en el enlace de índice BMI Live. Sólo el cantautor puede someter los detalles de la presentación en BMI Live. Los editores de BMI son elegibles para pagos bajo BMI Live, pero no tienen acceso a la aplicación de BMI Live para la introducción de datos.
Puede someter su información de presentaciones tantas veces que usted guste. Usted puede introducir las fechas a un máximo de 2 trimestres anteriores al trimestre actual (en curso). Usted podrá ver las fechas disponibles tan al iniciar la sesión de BMI Live.
Precios por la presentación de cada trimestre se determina por una combinación del número de presentaciones comunicadas durante el período de pago y los derechos de licencia generales disponibles para la distribución de BMI Live. Dado que el número de obras con licencia de BMI, así como el importe de los derechos de licencia recaudados por BMI, cambian de trimestre a trimestre, la tasa de regalías para BMI Live funciona del mismo modo puede variar de un trimestre a otro. Para obtener más información sobre BMI y las regalías vea “Cómo pagamos regalías”.
Si usted ha leído todas las preguntas frecuentes en esta sección y aún tiene dudas, tenemos varios recursos para ayudarle. En primer lugar es posible que usted desee probar: nuestra página de información de BMI Live.
Usted también puede enviar un correo electrónico a email@example.com.
En este momento BMI Live sólo se puede utilizar para presentaciones dentro de los EE.UU. Los cantautores de BMI que se presenten fuera de los EE.UU. debe descargar y completar (llenar) el Formulario de Foreign Live Performance Notification Form disponibles en la página de formularios.
Los editores no pueden someter lista de canciones (setlists) a nombre de sus cantautores. Sólo aquellos cantautores que tuvieron o tendrán presentación podrán someter la lista de canciones (setlist) a BMI Live.
Sí, usted debe incluir canciones de cover. Sin embargo, sólo se refieren a las canciones de cover dentro de la base de datos serán elegible para recibir pagos de regalías en el marco del programa de BMI Live. Al introducir una nueva presentación, oprima en “Añadir canción de cover a su lista de canciones (setlist)” para seleccionar una canción de cover de la base de datos de BMI Live.
If the check is less than 6 months old, it is still valid. However, if the check is over 6 months old, you should send the check back to BMI along with a written request to have it re-issued. Please send it to:
Broadcast Music Inc.
ATTN: Royalty Accounting
10 Music Square East
Nashville, TN 37203
Check Online Change of Address to confirm the address BMI has on file for your account is correct. If your address is incorrect please update your information. Please allow at least two weeks for your check to arrive. If you do not receive your check, please contact the BMI office nearest you or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the future you may want to consider direct deposit. If you are eligible to apply for online direct deposit you will see Direct Deposit in your applications menu when logged in. If you do not have that menu option please visit our forms page and download the “Direct Deposit Authorization” form.
We are unable to offer direct deposit to non-US banks.
However, affiliates with non-US banks are eligible to receive payments through wire transfer. Please note your bank may charge a fee to process wire transfer payments. You can request a wire transfer form by emailing International@bmi.com.
Generally, the international rights society collects the royalties and distributes them to the sub-publisher you have an agreement with.
BMI is only entitled to collect your publisher performance royalties if you have not assigned your performing rights to a publisher in another territory. You should review your contracts carefully for the details on the rights you have assigned.
If you have entered into an agreement with another publisher and that publisher is assigned the right to collect a portion or all of your performance royalties in another country, you should notify BMI.
More importantly, if your agreement terminates, you should notify BMI of this termination.