Industry Links

U.S. Copyright Office

Present Federal copyright law protects a registered work for the life of the author plus 70 years to their heirs for a minimal fee. It also provides the author exclusive rights to create derivative works from the original while the work is under protection, and allows for award of statutory damages for infringement. It is one of the best deals the government offers. You can find out more about copyright procedure by visiting the U.S. Copyright Office.

Performing Rights Organizations

The law says that no one can perform a copyrighted work in public unless they get permission from the copyright owner, which generally involves money. This process is managed by Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) who grant “blanket” licenses to radio and TV stations, networks, venues, and other music users that allow them to use all the music owned by the songwriters and publishers represented by that PRO. In return, the music user pays the PRO, and most of that money gets distributed to the songwriters and publishers.

In order to collect money for performance royalties, the songwriter and publisher must be affiliated with the same PRO. Mid-size and large publishers normally incorporate two or three different companies so they can work with songwriters regardless of their respective affiliation. STORYinSONGtm has not yet affiliated with a PRO, and is reviewing the benefits and drawbacks of the three major organizations.

Almost every nation in the world has at least one PRO, and many are affiliated with the big three to make international royalty collections easier. This is especially important to capture additional revenue sources from markets outside the U.S. from record production, radio and television broadcasts, novelties, movies, live performances, sheet music, and digital audio streaming over the worldwide web.

The 3 Major PROs

The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) is the largest, and the only one of the big three owned and run by songwriters and publishers who are its members. It is a non-profit association, and its board of directors is elected by the membership. ASCAP has initiated reforms in copyright law, and actively represented songwriters before the U.S. Congress for nearly a century. ASCAP pays performance royalties on songs based solely on the type and estimated number of performances they receive. To join ASCAP, you must be a songwriter, publisher, or songwriter’s heir.

Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) is also a non-profit company. Started by radio broadcasters who were unsatisfied with ASCAP, they were able to develop a loyalty among country and R&B writers that were not allowed into ASCAP during the early years before PRO competition. BMI pays royalties based on estimated performances, but gives bonuses to songs that get a lot of play.

The Society of European Stage Authors and Composers (SESAC) is a for profit company. This gives them the ability to cut a better deal than a non-profit if they really want the songwriter’s portfolio. SESAC has a reputation for generally paying faster than ASCAP and BMI, but may pay less overall. They are the smallest of the big three, but stable.

Christian Copyright Licensing International

Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI) is a company based in Portland, Oregon that licenses and collects royalties from churches for reproduction, reprinting or copying of songs to be used in worship services, choir shows, etc. Churches are not required to pay PROs for services, but they are required to license and pay for reproductions like bulletin inserts, songbooks, or visual projections of the songs. CCLI handles this and distributed more than $15 million to publishers last year.

Nashville Songwriters Association

The Nashville Songwriters Association (NSAI) is a not-for-profit trade association devoted to the service of songwriters. Established in 1967 by professional songwriters in Nashville, NSAI now has members all over the world. Regional workshops give members who don’t live around Nashville the opportunity for fellowship and development. In addition to a newsletter, guides, and other resources, NSAI provides a Song Evaluation Service by mail to evaluate a song’s commercial potential. Any song from the Song Evaluation Service judged “ready to pitch” is played for a music publisher at NSAI’s Nashville Workshop.


We would genuinely appreciate your feedback on this website and our song material. This site was created in November 2008, and will continue to evolve as we bring more of our demo songs into the digital world. You can reach Dan Laurie or Al Curving by clicking on this link to Contact Us and we will get back to you. We hope your visit with us was a good one. Thank you and God bless.

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