The word “PRO” is actually an acronym that stands for Performing Rights Organization. As a service and an institution in the music industry, PROs have offered a unique and critical role inside the career of every writer, composer, and producer: They make sure you get paid! (Kind of like Repost!) That being said, if you’re considering a life in music, then you should also be considering a PRO.
Referred to as a “collection agency” in many other parts of the world, PROs protect and collect the performance royalties for every composition that you write. They can also track down and resolve any unpaid performance royalties that you are still waiting on. Think of it like your very own “muscle” in the music industry - shaking down all of those unpaid dollas!
There are Two Major (Public) PROs in the United States: ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers: http://www.ascap.com/) & BMI (Broadcast Music Inc: http://www.bmi.com/). SESAC (https://www.sesac.com/) is another major PRO in the U.S. but their organization is private, and open only to songwriters by invitation.
By law, you are only allowed to be with one PRO at a time. Meaning that as your official rights organisation, they will represent your entire catalogue and have the power to license any of your work. That being said, it’s important to know what your options are, and which PRO is the right option for you.
Performing Rights Organizations are probably one of the most important legs of the music industry. They keep our money moving and they keep our community standing. Simply put: If you want to be “Pro,” you’ll need a PRO.