One half is designated for the songwriter(s) or composer(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.
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, 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 and composers. Early registration of works will help prevent lost royalties, so make sure your songs are registered.
To begin registering your works, log into your Online Services account and select “Works Registration” on the left side of the page. Next, click the green “Add New Work” button at the top of the page and step through the process. Screenshots provided below.
Once the works are submitted online, they will need to be processed by BMI before showing up in your Works Catalog. You will receive an email notification from email@example.com once the works have been processed.
Please refer to Instructions for Updating Registered Works for complete instructions to update works that have already been registered with BMI.
In short, you can email update requests to firstname.lastname@example.org. In your email, be sure to include the title and work number, as well as a clear description of the revision that is being requested. Your request will be reviewed and, if supporting documentation is required before the update can be completed, we’ll email you back with further instructions.
Please note, this is the only way to update an existing work. If you try to register a new version of the same work it will be rejected automatically.
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 IPI/CAE number is a publicly accessible international identification number used to identify participants on a work. Writers and publishers will be assigned a unique number for each name/AKA on file with BMI. Therefore, writers with multiple names/AKAs will have multiple numbers.
You will register works using the IPI Number associated with the name/AKA you would like to appear on the new work. Regardless of the IPI Number you decide to use, the royalties will all be directed to your BMI account.
You can locate your IPI numbers TWO ways:
1. OLS – IPI Numbers are now available in Online Services! You can find your IPI number by logging into Online Services and selecting “IPI Number” from the Applications menu on the left side of the page.
If you only have one BMI account, you will be taken directly to your IPI information.
If you have multiple BMI accounts, select the account from the drop-down menu and the screen will update with your IPI information. In the example below, this person has access to their BMI writer and publisher accounts.
Your legal name and any AKAs registered with BMI will be listed on this screen.
2. By searching BMI | Songview.
a. Select “Writer/Composer” from the drop-down menu, and search for your name to find your IPI #.
b. Similarly, you can also select “Publisher” to find a publisher account IPI #.
Public Performing Right
Granted by U.S. Copyright Law, the public performing right is the exclusive right of the copyright owner to authorize the performance or transmission of a copyrighted work in public.
Public Performance License
BMI issues licenses on behalf of the copyright owner or the copyright owner’s agent granting the right to perform the work in or transmit the work to the public.
Granted by U.S. Copyright Law, the reproduction right is the exclusive right of the copyright owner to authorize the reproduction of a copyrighted musical work, as in CDs, records, tapes, ringtones, permanent digital downloads, and interactive streams.
The Mechanical Licensing Collective administers blanket licenses on behalf of copyright owners to eligible streaming and download services (digital service providers or DSP’s) in the United States.
Copyright owners, usually a music publisher, issues a synchronization license, usually to a producer or other visual media creator, granting the right to synchronize (“sync”) a musical composition to visual images on film or video (on film, tv shows, advertisements, online videos, etc.).
Publisher information, including contact information for BMI affiliated publishers, is available through our online repertoire search.
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.
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.
The majority of songs registered online will appear in your Online Services Catalog and in Songview within 24 hours. Work registrations that require additional research may take up to 7 business days to become visible online.
Cue sheets are the primary means by which performing rights organizations track the use of music in films and TV. Without cue sheets, it would be nearly impossible for such composers and publishers to be compensated for their work.
Arrangements are not eligible for the live classical distribution at BMI. Please register all arrangements as non-classical by selecting “all other genres” at the beginning of the registration process.
Works that are going straight to recorded release without live concert premieres are not registered as classical. Please register instrumental CD tracks as non-classical by selecting “all other genres” at the beginning of the registration process.
At BMI, you need not affiliate a publishing entity in order to receive publishing shares, as we pay all royalties (writer and publisher) to the composer on any self-published works. If you prefer to receive your composer and publisher royalty streams separately, you may affiliate your publishing company by completing the BMI Publisher Application Form. Please note that while composer affiliation is free, there is a one-time fee to affiliate a publishing company with BMI.
Music written in service to a film or television show is not registered as classical at BMI, regardless of instrumentation or how the music sounds. BMI will pay the cues based on the cue sheet we receive from the production company. Please don’t register film or TV cues to your catalog.
Yes. Although BMI doesn’t license theatrical or dramatic musical presentations, we do pay for radio broadcast of operas, operettas and musicals, as well as excerpts from dramatic works, and those presentations that are unstaged concert versions.
Text found on the internet without attribution to the author or a publication date is not necessarily in the public domain. Before you can register this work with BMI, you should contact the website’s administrator to determine the copyright holder. Written permission to use any copyrighted text is required before you can register the work with BMI.
To add a movement to a work that already appears in your BMI catalog, please send an email to email@example.com with the updated duration of the full work. Please do not register the new movement separately.
If your work is performed as a transcription for another instrument, then you’d still be credited with the performance of the original version of the work. There is no need to update the registration unless you’ve created an official alternate instrumentation for one of the works that already appears in your catalog. In the latter case, email firstname.lastname@example.org to add the new instrumentation to the existing title.
Generally, individual movements should not be registered as separate works; BMI has a system of in-house registrations to accommodate occasional performances of excerpts or movements from larger works. However, if a movement is being performed frequently and exists as an independent work, the classical department will request a registration from you.
No. Royalties from radio play are based on a statistical sample. BMI uses performance monitoring data, continuously collected on a large percentage of all licensed commercial radio stations, to determine payable performances. We cannot accept performance reports from our writers or publishers for radio broadcasts.
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No. BMI Live is intended for non-classical performances. Quarterly royalty payments from BMI Live are completely separate from the annual Live Classical royalty distribution, For more information, please review our guidelines for reporting classical performances.
Please send a completed Premiere Report Form, along with a copy of the concert program, to BMI. BMI is able to license the first performance of a work in the United States (U.S. premiere) only if we receive written authorization from you or your publisher. This serves to protect your right to control the circumstances of first performance. For more information, please review our guidelines for reporting classical performances.
Arrangements are not eligible for the Live Classical distribution at BMI because they are not original works. BMI defines a classical work as: an original work written for live classical performance by a classical performer or ensemble and being performed under a classical license. Arrangements are, however, eligible for royalties from all other sources. Therefore, please register arrangements by selecting “all other genres” at the beginning of the work registration process.
On “official” remixes, meaning the new work has been commissioned by, or otherwise approved by, the creators/rights owners of the original work, yes, BMI does pay performance royalties. An “official” remix usually involves a DJ/producer, and, to the extent that there is a sufficient amount of new creative elements in the remix, it will typically be considered a derivative work. The label, artist, publishers, writers, and individual(s) involved in creating the remix will agree on what the royalty splits will be for the remix, which requires a new BMI registration to reflect the agreed royalty splits.
On an “unofficial” remix, meaning the remix was done without the consent of the creators/rights owners of the original work and the creator of the remix, no, BMI does not pay performance royalties to the individual(s) involved in creating the remix, because it is an unauthorized derivative work. “Unofficial” remixes should not be registered with BMI as a new work.
At BMI, we only register as “classical” works that are eligible for the live classical distribution: those that are original (not arrangements), and that are composed for live concert performance by a classical ensemble or under a classical license. If you have never registered a classical work before, please contact the classical department at email@example.com.