What is a Performing Rights Organization?
Great question. We get it all the time. A P.R.O., as they are often called, collects money owed to songwriters for the public performance of their songs. Some examples would be radio airplay, placements in movies or TV shows, concerts, "elevator music," and even music on hold for phone systems. These are all uses of the song that the writer(s) gets paid a "performance royalty" for, and the P.R.O. collects that royalty and distributes it to the appropriate people. The three P.R.O.s in the United States are ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC.
When do I need to join a Performing Rights Organization?
You don't technically need to be a member of a P.R.O. until your songs are being played on radio or TV, but the P.R.O.s can help further your career, if they like what you are doing.
How can a Performing Rights Organization help my career?
The P.R.O.s, if they believe in what you are doing, can help by introducing you to collaborators, publishers, A&R, and other industry types. They hold periodic showcases to feature new talent, and hold workshops and seminars designed to educate and connect their members.