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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.
Yes! Joining BMI online as a songwriter or composer is simple. To join now, follow these instructions.
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.
Yes. In fact, many songwriters set up a company to publish their own works.
Unlike some performing rights organizations, joining BMI as a songwriter or composer is free. There are no fees or annual dues of any kind for songwriters and composers.
Although some performing rights 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.
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 and supporting music careers from the ground up. The organization’s layered approach to songwriter and composer development includes educational, creative and promotional opportunities, such as:
BMI stages showcases all over the country. Weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually, these series highlight both bold new voices and established hit-makers: Acoustic Lounge at SXSW, Speed Dating for Songwriters, Show and Tell, Sonidos Showcase, Know them Now, Next Big Wave and Songwriter Social Club 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, Maui Songwriters Festival, Luck Reunion, Lollapalooza, Hangout Fest, ONE Music Fest, Ruido Fest, Austin City Limits Music Festival, Key West Songwriters Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival, numerous Billboard-led conferences, and more.
From BMI events like How I Wrote That Song, Speakers Series, She’s The Music to in-depth conversations at top tier festivals including Sundance, Comic-con, Tribeca Film Festival and SXSW, BMI panels offer invaluable insights and advice 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, founded in 1988, was formed to foster composition for the jazz big band. BMI 101 is an hour-long introductory workshop for writers and publishers, which discusses the history of performing rights, 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. BMI annually sponsors the NYU TV Scoring Workshop and the NYU Music for Advertising Workshop where students attend two weeks of hands-on scoring, critiques, panels and recording under the mentorship of esteemed composers in their respective industries.
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.
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’s partnering with Payoneer allows those without a U.S. bank account to take advantage of direct deposit benefits.
BMI offers a broad spectrum of discounts created specifically for its affiliates, including savings on subscriptions, educational programs and professional gear.
Learn more about the menu of BMI benefits available in our Benefits section.
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.
No. BMI only represents its members in their role as songwriters, composers and publishers of songs and scores. Getting a record deal is not within the scope of our business.
As long as you are not a member of any other performing rights organization in the world, you are free to affiliate with BMI if you believe you will be earning performance royalties.
I am a BMI affiliate. I have entered into a sub-publishing deal for representation in foreign countries. How does it work?
Your publisher will either enter into a sub-publishing agreement with a publisher in the local territories or have a subsidiary in each territory. The society in each territory collects the royalties and distributes the writer’s share to BMI on your behalf, while the publisher’s share of royalties is paid to the local sub-publisher who then pays through the royalties to your publisher less an agreed administration fee.
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.
Celebrating over 80 years of service to songwriters, composers, music publishers and businesses, BMI is a global leader in music rights management, serving as an advocate for the value of music. BMI represents the public performance rights in over 20.6 million musical works created and owned by more than 1.3 million songwriters, composers, and music publishers. The Company negotiates music license agreements and distributes the fees it generates as royalties to its affiliated writers and publishers when their songs are performed in public. In 1939, BMI created a groundbreaking open-door policy becoming the only performing rights organization to welcome and represent the creators of blues, jazz, country, and American roots music. Today, the musical compositions in BMI’s repertoire, from chart toppers to perennial favorites, span all genres of music and are consistently among the most-performed hits of the year.
To learn more about BMI and how to become a BMI affiliate, consider attending one of our upcoming BMI 101 workshops.
See our Tax Information page for complete details on selecting and completing the appropriate international tax form.
With your authorization, a manager or other third-party can be granted access to your account using their own unique username/password. To keep your confidential information secure, please do not share your username/password with your manager or other third-party.
To grant authorization, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the following required information:
- Your BMI account name(s) and number(s)
- Authorized party name(s) and email(s)
- List of applications the third-party should have access to:
- Works Catalog
- Works Registration
- Tax Documents
- Royalty Statement
- BMI Live
- Direct Deposit
- Change of Address
You can remove third-party access at any time through your own Online Services account by clicking on “Third Party Permissions,” and then select “Edit” next to their name.
No, each writer or band member must join individually, as themselves, using their own personal information.