The ASCAP vs. BMI Lack
What up Smart Rapper! I’m Rob Level and today we are talking about ROYALTIES for your MUSIC, the tools you need to collect them, and some insider info you NEED to know as an up-and-coming independent artist.
You never know who might be using your music for any number of things. You deserve to know and get your due royalties!
But you’ll need to know a few things to navigate the companies who keep track of the money and where it goes, and that’s why I’m here to help.
You’ll be very glad you watched this video, alright Smart Rapper, let’s get into it.
First off, what is a royalty?
What Is A Royalty?
A royalty is money that is paid out to an artist for the use of their song or songs. The royalty is paid out by the person or company using the song.
Think about it, right? You created something.
You own it. If someone wants to use it, they need to pay you for that use.
It’s really pretty simple.
Most rappers know about collecting royalties and that they are entitled to money if their music is played in a movie, commercial, tv show, etc.
But how do you actually collect them?
The first step is really easy for everybody and is basically standard across the board in terms of documenting the rights you own to your music.
Now, this is something you should do, but I’m also going to show you the weaknesses in their system and why they aren’t working for you guys the way they probably should.
I’m talking about Performance Rights Organizations, also known as PRO’s.
What Are PRO’s?
You need to register with one of the Performance Rights Organizations, or PROs, once your music is published and out there, waiting basically to be stolen.
Some examples of these are ASCAP, BMI, and SEASAC.
These organizations collect royalties for you.
For instance, if some company was using your song, ASCAP would identify it and claim the royalties for you.
You’d be surprised how much this happens – the world is a big place and American rap is popular everywhere.
Working with these companies is a MUST for every rapper trying to make the most money for their songs and is an important place to start when it comes to claiming that money.
HOWEVER, there IS an issue with ASCAP and those kinds of companies I do need to bring up for you guys.
These companies do not do AS MUCH as they should in terms of tracking down your cash.
They handle common royalties, but still leave money on the table that you could be putting in your pocket, and here’s why:
Say you have a song that’s charting in Canada or Europe, a song in an Asian film or commercial.
ASCAP won’t get you ANYTHING for that – you won’t be getting any money in royalties.
Someone could be using your song for a commercial in Japan, counting on the fact you’re never going to see it, and even if you notice it, ASCAP won’t be able to claim jack for you.
Why? Because most of those organizations do not have a global reach for royalty collection.
They do not handle your music or your music’s rights outside of the U.S, meaning you’re not protected in terms of keeping track of royalties and collecting the money you are rightfully owed for the use of your work.
ASCAP and BMI operate under a ‘reciprocal agreement’ and rely on this agreement with other countries when reporting song use. However, they do not register your music directly with foreign royalty collection societies, so a lot of royalties fall through the cracks. Like A LOT a lot.
ANOTHER crazy thing is that ASCAP and these kinds of organizations also leave out a major source of royalty income for artists, which is STREAMING MONEY!
They straight up do not pursue mechanical royalties, which you get from streaming.
You. Need. To. Be. Getting. Paid. From. Streams.
Streaming is the solution for artists in the digital age, the only thing that compensates for the fact people rarely buy albums, singles, or mixtapes anymore.
Ignoring streaming money isn’t fair for indie artists on the come up. It’s just not.
Here are a few other things about ASCAP and PROs you’re gonna wanna know.
First, they only payout twice a year.
That means if you’re earning, you’ll be waiting six months to get your money, which is insane to me.
Imagine working for a company that only paid you twice a year.
Next, they sometimes take really, really long to get back to you.
For example, you can register and submit a song in order to start getting your royalties, and they might not approve it for 3 months.
That’s three months of money you’ve potentially lost waiting for them to process your tracks.
Finally, they take a percentage of all your royalties, both on the front and back end.
For example, if you get paid 15 grand for your song’s placement in a movie, ASCAP takes a cut.
THEN, after you’ve made other money from the song, they’ll take a cut of that too.
Okay…so I think you can see from all of this that ASCAP and PROs in general have some big weaknesses in terms of covering rappers and their royalties.
While I do recommend still registering, since it is important and ASCAP is an institution in the music industry – it legitimizes your work for sure – but you need to be aware of what it is and isn’t doing for you.
Now, as a result of these weaknesses, a lot of companies have popped up recently to help fill in the spots ASCAP is missing out on.
We’re gonna be doing some videos on those other companies, their strengths and weaknesses, so you can make the best decision for you and your music and be educated on what you’re getting out of it.
Information is power, and you don’t want to lose out on making money from your tracks.
Alright, thanks for watching. I’m Rob Level – hit me with a like, hit me with a subscribe, and let me know in the comments if you think ASCAP is worth it or nah.
I’ll be releasing more on this topic as I said.
Get yourself on the right path for your career, keep hustling Smart Rapper. I’ll see You at the Top!
– Rob Level