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BMI Member FAQs

« Back to FAQs What is the difference between performing right royalties, mechanical royalties and sync royalties?

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.

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