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Difference Between BMI and Ascap

Difference Between BMI and Ascap

Ever wondered what separates one music PRO from another? Specifically, what makes performing rights organizations, BMI and ASCAP, different? This article uncovers the significant distinctions between BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.) and ASCAP (The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers).

What are PROs?

Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) come in handy in the music industry. As an artist or songwriter, PROs take responsibility for collecting royalties whenever your music is performed publicly, be it in concerts, radio broadcasts, or even streamed on online platforms. Among these organizations, BMI and ASCAP are some of the largest and internationally recognized, mostly operating within the United States.

The Divergence between BMI and ASCAP

When choosing a PRO to join, it's essential to identify the differences between them. So let's dive into the key disparities between BMI and ASCAP.

History and Members

  • ASCAP: Founded in 1914, ASCAP is the oldest PRO in the US. It has a membership of over 735,000 songwriters, composers, and music publishers.
  • BMI: Launched nearly two decades later in 1939, BMI was created to provide competition to ASCAP and ensure fair representation. It represents over 900,000 songwriters, composers, and music publishers.

Revenue and Distributions

  • ASCAP: In 2019, ASCAP collected over $1.23 billion in revenue and distributed about $1.109 billion to its members.
  • BMI: In the same year, BMI collected roughly $1.283 billion in revenue and distributed about $1.196 billion to members.

Membership Fees

  • ASCAP: It charges a one-time fee of $50 for songwriters and $50 for publishers.
  • BMI: For songwriters, it offers free registration, whereas publishers are charged a one-time fee of $150 or $250 if applying online or by mail, respectively.

Difference Between BMI and Ascap Example:

For example, consider an independent artist who frequently performs at local venues. They would immensely benefit from joining a PRO to claim the performance rights of their music. If they prefer a PRO with decades of experience and don't mind paying a registration fee, ASCAP would be an ideal option. If they aim to conserve funds but still want equally professional service, then BMI, with its free songwriter registration, would suit them.

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Music Industry Insider 2024: The Ultimate Contact Handbook

Unlock the key to your music career. This game-changing resource puts over 3,000 of the most influential music industry contacts at your fingertips.

Connect directly with the top A&Rs, Music Managers, Producers, Record Labels & Booking Agents who can elevate your music to new heights. With all the content information you need, including email addresses and phone numbers. Don't just dream of success, make it a reality.

Embrace Music Industry Insider and open doors to limitless opportunities in your music journey.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are BMI and ASCAP?

BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.) and ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers) are two of the largest performing rights organizations (PROs) in the United States. They are responsible for protecting the intellectual property of songwriters, composers, and music publishers by monitoring and licensing public performances of their works and ensuring they receive appropriate royalties.

How do BMI and ASCAP differ in their origins?

BMI was founded in 1939 as a reaction to ASCAP's monopoly over the broadcasting industry at that time. ASCAP, on the other hand, was established earlier, in 1914, by composers and publishers as a society to protect the interests of creators of music.

Can a songwriter be a member of both BMI and ASCAP?

No, a songwriter must choose to be affiliated with only one performing rights organization at a time. Joining both BMI and ASCAP is not allowed as they provide the same types of services, and this would cause conflicts in licensing and royalty distribution.

Is there a membership fee for BMI or ASCAP?

ASCAP requires a one-time application fee for writers and for publishers. BMI does not require a fee for songwriters to join, but there is a fee for publishers. The costs can change, so it's recommended to check the latest information on each organization's website.

What type of licenses do BMI and ASCAP issue?

BMI and ASCAP issue performance licenses to businesses and organizations that use music publicly. This includes radio stations, television networks, bars, restaurants, concert halls, and more. The licenses give these entities the right to play copyrighted music from the PROs' respective libraries.

How do BMI and ASCAP distribute royalties to their members?

BMI and ASCAP collect license fees from businesses that play their members' music and distribute these as royalties to songwriters, composers, and music publishers. Royalties are distributed based on respective agreements and performance tracking data that determine the frequency and context in which songs are played.

Which organization has a larger repertoire of music?

Both BMI and ASCAP have extensive catalogs that consist of millions of songs. The size of their repertoires is constantly changing and is comparable. However, the specific artists and songs each represents can differ significantly.

Do BMI and ASCAP operate internationally?

Yes, both BMI and ASCAP have international reach through reciprocal agreements with foreign rights organizations. These partnerships help them to collect and distribute royalties for performances that occur outside of the United States.

How do I choose between BMI and ASCAP?

Choosing between BMI and ASCAP largely depends on personal preference, as both organizations offer similar services. Factors to consider might include the fees, customer service, the ease of registering works, the frequency of royalty payments, and any distinct benefits each may offer to its members.

Which organization is better for independent artists?

Both BMI and ASCAP are suitable for independent artists, and neither has an explicit advantage over the other in this regard. Each artist must assess which PRO aligns better with their specific needs and preferences.

How often do BMI and ASCAP pay out royalties?

BMI typically distributes royalties quarterly, while ASCAP pays out on a similar schedule. These distributions can sometimes vary based on the type of license and the terms agreed upon for each piece of work.

Are there differences in the types of awards and recognitions offered by BMI and ASCAP?

Both BMI and ASCAP hold award ceremonies to recognize exceptional songwriting and composing. The specific awards and qualifications for them can differ, reflecting each organization's unique culture and membership community.

Can members of BMI and ASCAP collaborate on works?

Yes, members of BMI and ASCAP can collaborate on songs and musical works. In such cases, royalties are split according to the agreed percentages and are distributed by each PRO to their respective affiliate.

Are royalties collected by BMI and ASCAP taxable income?

Yes, royalties collected by BMI and ASCAP are considered taxable income. Members should report these earnings on their tax returns and may need to consult with a tax professional to understand the implications fully.

How transparent are BMI and ASCAP with their royalty distribution process?

Both BMI and ASCAP aim to be transparent with their royalty distribution process. They provide accessible information regarding how royalties are calculated and distributed. However, the exact methodologies may be complex, involving proprietary algorithms and data analysis.

Can film and television music composers benefit from joining BMI or ASCAP?

Yes, film and television composers can benefit from joining either BMI or ASCAP. Both organizations collect performance royalties for music used in films and television broadcasts, which can be a substantial income source for composers in these fields.

How do BMI and ASCAP handle online music streaming services?

BMI and ASCAP license online music streaming services just as they do traditional broadcast services. They negotiate with these platforms to secure fair compensation for their members' works when streamed online.

What role do BMI and ASCAP play in the fight against music piracy?

BMI and ASCAP play crucial roles in advocating for stronger copyright laws and enforcement to combat music piracy. They work to educate the public on the value of intellectual property and maintain close partnerships with policymakers to protect the rights of music creators.

How does one affiliate with BMI or ASCAP as a songwriter or publisher?

To affiliate with BMI as a songwriter or publisher, you can apply through their official website. The process includes submitting personal information and, for publishers, a fee. ASCAP also requires potential members to apply and submit relevant information along with the applicable fee for membership.

What kind of support services do BMI and ASCAP offer their members?

BMI and ASCAP provide a wide range of support services to their members, including workshops, networking events, advocacy, and educational resources. They also offer tools for tracking performances and managing royalty payments.

Are there alternative performing rights organizations to BMI and ASCAP?

Yes, alternatives to BMI and ASCAP include SESAC and GMR (Global Music Rights), which are also performing rights organizations, but with different membership models and territories of operation.

How does my choice of PRO affect my music career?

Your choice of PRO can affect your music career in terms of the connections, resources, and support services you receive. It's important to research each PRO's benefits and limitations and how they align with your career goals and the administrative aspect of your music business.

We hope this detailed content has provided you with a clearer understanding of the unique characteristics of both BMI and ASCAP. Know that both these PROs offer brilliant representation for your music. Share this blog with a fellow music artist or publisher who's deciding which PRO to join. Dive into the myriad of guides on Lyric Assistant for more such enlightening content. Remember, your music is your legacy. Make informed decisions on protecting your creative work!

Music Industry Insider 2024: The Ultimate Contact Handbook

Unlock the key to your music career. This game-changing resource puts over 3,000 of the most influential music industry contacts at your fingertips.

Connect directly with the top A&Rs, Music Managers, Producers, Record Labels & Booking Agents who can elevate your music to new heights. With all the content information you need, including email addresses and phone numbers. Don't just dream of success, make it a reality.

Embrace Music Industry Insider and open doors to limitless opportunities in your music journey.

trustpilot 1

Music Industry Insider 2024: The Ultimate Contact Handbook

Unlock the key to your music career. This game-changing resource puts over 3,000 of the most influential music industry contacts at your fingertips.

Connect directly with the top A&Rs, Music Managers, Producers, Record Labels & Booking Agents who can elevate your music to new heights. With all the content information you need, including email addresses and phone numbers. Don't just dream of success, make it a reality.

Embrace Music Industry Insider and open doors to limitless opportunities in your music journey.

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About Toni Mercia

Toni Mercia is a Grammy award-winning songwriter and the founder of Lyric Assistant. With over 15 years of experience in the music industry, Toni has written hit songs for some of the biggest names in music. She has a passion for helping aspiring songwriters unlock their creativity and take their craft to the next level. Through Lyric Assistant, Toni has created a tool that empowers songwriters to make great lyrics and turn their musical dreams into reality.

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