ASCAP and BMI

Do any members of this forum have any experience with ASCAP or BMI they can share?  There is a lot of information on these organizations on the internet, but there is almost too much -- it's hard to visualize how it actually works in practice. I'd especially like to know if these organizations handle instrumental compositions -- a lot of the descriptions of them keep referring to "songs" and "songwriters".  If someone asks for permission to perform one of your works, do you tell them that the work is listed with these organizations and is that a problem?  If you submit a work in ASCAP or BMI to a call for scores, do you have to say that it is in ASCAP or BMI and if so, at what point in the process?  Many members of this site would probably be interested in this topic.  Thanks for any information.

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  • I am with BMI and have songs and instrumental pieces there. Anecdotally I have heard that they are a bit more modern than ASCAP, but I know few composers who actively seek royalties and I'm fairly new to BMI, so no royalties yet.

  • I got introduced to BMI when looking for a reference to be accpted to Songtradr.  I am in BMI but I have no idea what it does for me or whether it does anything at all...  Songtradr pays some minute royalties and keeps track of my rights on the internet. 

  • Thanks for the responses so far.

    I've read everything I that seemed relevant on the ASCAP web site, as well as some reports about ASCAP on other web sites, and I'm disappointed that I can't find any information on exactly how ASCAP works.

    What I mean is this: suppose I join ASCAP, what then? Do I have to put all my compositions in some kind of ASCAP data base? Do I have to add some kind of ASCAP notice to my printed scores? If someone wants to perform or record one of my compositions, do I have to tell them to contact ASCAP about it, and exactly how? Or do I have to contact ASCAP about it myself and exactly how?  If I submit one of my compositions to a call for scores, do I have to say on my submission that it with ASCAP?  And if I don't tell them that until after the score is selected for performance, will that be a problem?  Do I have the right to waive any ASCAP fee for a given performance?  What if I discover someone has performed or recorded one of my compositions without notifying ASCAP?  What do I do then?  And a dozen other questions.

    It's remarkable that ASCAP doesn't seem to describe any of this to potential members.  How can I decide whether to join if I don't know how it works?

    • I join ASCAP, what then? - you start registering works you want to be able to get royalties for


      Do I have to put all my compositions in some kind of ASCAP data base? - yes


      Do I have to add some kind of ASCAP notice to my printed scores? - no

      If someone wants to perform or record one of my compositions, do I have to tell them to contact ASCAP about it, and exactly how? - it depends. If it is a live concert and they are part of any official group (I use my group, the Baltimore Composers Forum, as an example), then the group is probably both an ASCAP and a BMI member, which, unlike you, they pay for. If the performance includes a program, the group submits a copy of the program to ASCAP and ASCAP determines what royalties are due to you and pays you directly. If the performance is not part of a group, just an individual performer in an unofficial capacity, I'm not sure how it works.


      Or do I have to contact ASCAP about it myself and exactly how? - no


      If I submit one of my compositions to a call for scores, do I have to say on my submission that it with ASCAP? - no

      And if I don't tell them that until after the score is selected for performance, will that be a problem?  - n/a

      Do I have the right to waive any ASCAP fee for a given performance? - don't know, but why would you?

      What if I discover someone has performed or recorded one of my compositions without notifying ASCAP?  What do I do then? - join one of the groups and start looking at the literature available to members and asking these questions of the group

      • Thanks so much -- this is the kind of detailed, practical information I was looking for and couldn't find on the ASCAP web site.

        As to why I would want to waive royalties, I was thinking of cases where some school, church, or amateur group that simply didn't have any money wanted to perform or record one of my works.  I'd probably want to forgo the no doubt small payment rather than not have the performance.

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