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Songwriting & Music Business Basics 

What does a Performing Rights Organization (PRO) do?

In basic terms, a PRO is a licensing agent for songwriters and their respective music publishing companies. We collect and pay royalties for public performances of their song(s).

SESAC eduUnder the U.S. Copyright Law, music users must receive authorization before publicly performing copyrighted musical works and, in turn, the copyright owners of those works are entitled to be compensated for those public performances. SESAC ensures that licensing the public performance of musical works on behalf of its affiliates honors the copyright law.

SESAC represents U.S. writers and publishers as well as international affiliates who have chosen SESAC to represent them in the U.S. for the purpose of collecting performance royalties.

Royalties are paid to the respective SESAC writers and publishers regardless of the performance’s format. A performance can occur on radio, television, in live shows, in restaurants, as background music, via the Internet, or, in short, just about anywhere music is performed publicly.

How long has SESAC been around?
SESAC was founded in 1930 and is the second oldest Performing Rights Organization in the United States.  For over 80 years SESAC has been a leader in the performing rights arena, licensing and collecting royalties for our affiliates and always making certain to grow with the times.

How does SESAC differ from ASCAP or BMI?
SESAC is a technological leader among the nation’s Performing Rights Organizations utilizing the top digital advances to enhance its tracking of music performances.  Since 1994, SESAC has pioneered the use of Broadcast Data Systems [BDS] for monitoring radio performances and we continue to partner with BDS for the most comprehensive digital monitoring of public performances in the marketplace.

By utilizing cutting-edge technologies SESAC provides accurate service on behalf of our affiliates, successfully licensing music use across all platforms. SESAC prides itself on staying at the forefront of any and all established and developing technological advances in the industry.

SESAC, by design, is the smallest of the three U.S. Performing Rights Organizations.  Because of our size and our selectivity, SESAC can offer to our affiliates efficient and personalized services, something that is unique within the industry.  We also are deeply committed to the continuing professional development of our affiliates.  Additionally, there are no fees for SESAC services, including no cost to affiliate.

What are some of the benefits of SESAC affiliation?
One of the greatest benefits of SESAC affiliation is the relationship we aim to have with our affiliates.  This includes the one-on-one relationship with SESAC Writer/Publisher Relations staff members.  Simply put, we know you; we know your music; and we take your business seriously.  We are available and able to assist you and your business team in an expedient and professional manner.

The SESAC royalty payment system is a great asset to SESAC affiliation. Using top of the line technology to track and monitor performances, SESAC stays ahead of the curve. We are extremely competitive with our royalty rates and are able to turn your royalty payments around quicker than the other PROs.

We have a unique online account management system where you can update your records, review your catalog, see royalty statements, and register your songs - all online via www.sesac.com.  You can also input your live performances.  SESAC has an exceptional live performance payment system.  From small nightclubs to large stadiums, as long as the venue is licensable, SESAC will pay performance royalties for live performances of your SESAC registered songs.

What kind of music does SESAC represent?
Virtually every category of music is contained in the widely diverse SESAC repertory, including Pop, Adult Contemporary, Country, Rock, Americana, R&B, Urban, Jazz, Hip Hop, Rap, Latin, Gospel, Dance, Classical, Contemporary Christian, and New Age.  We also represent music for Film, Television, Advertising, Jingles, and Commercials.

Who are some of our affiliates?
Our roster includes some of the biggest and most progressive names in music including Bob Dylan, RUSH, Swizz Beatz, Neil Diamond, Coheed & Cambria, Young Love, Flobots, Voxtrot, The Avett Brothers, Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, MGMT, The Faint, Mates of State, Killswitch Engage, Bryan-Michael Cox, Nate “Danja” Hills, El-P, Lady Antebellum, Bow Wow, and Omarion to name just a few.

We also have SESAC Latina, a division solely devoted to various genres of Latin Music. Some of our Latin affiliates include Claudia Brant, Aleks Syntek, Noel Schairis, La Bruja, Fonseca, and Alacranes Musical. See www.sesaclatina.com for more information. 

SESAC represents the biggest and most progressive names in all genres of music and we are constantly looking to sign exciting new writers and bands.

When do I get paid?
With only one calendar quarter between performance and payments, as a SESAC affiliate, you will be paid domestic royalties for your performance at the fastest turnaround rate in the industry.  Both domestic and foreign distributions are made quarterly. more info about How We Pay

Can SESAC songwriter affiliates collaborate with members of other societies?
Absolutely!  SESAC affiliates are free to co-write with anyone they choose.  Songwriters who are affiliated with other societies will receive payment from their own PRO.

Does SESAC represent my music when it is performed in a foreign country?
Yes.  SESAC has reciprocal agreements with over 80 international licensing organizations, covering every major territory in the world.  If your music is used in a foreign country, that country’s Performing Rights Organization will collect your royalties in accordance with its practices and transfer the royalties to SESAC on your behalf, which we will then transfer to you.

Can anyone join SESAC?
SESAC is a selective organization, taking pride in having a repertory based on quality, rather than quantity.   We encourage anyone to contact our Writer/Publisher Relations department for more information on how to become a SESAC affiliate; however, we are primarily interested in working with professional writers, or those who are pursuing their career professionally.  Please feel free to contact the SESAC office nearest you to speak with one of our Writer/Publisher Representatives about SESAC affiliation.  You can also visit our website at www.sesac.com

What if I’m already a member of a Performing Rights Organization?
You can only be represented by one PRO at a time as a WRITER affiliate. If you belong to another PRO and are still interested in SESAC affiliation, we would be glad to speak with you about the process of switching over.  Music publishers may have affiliations with all three PROs in order to accommodate their writers at each of the organizations.