Why Should I Register With A PRO: Music Publishing Simplified

Why Should I Register With A PRO?
Why Should I Register With A PRO?

Earlier this year, Anara Publishing joined forces with the Indian office of their sister company Horus Music to present a series of Instagram Live events entitled “Music Publishing Simplified.” We know that for independent artists, especially in India, the world of music publishing isn’t easily accessible so that’s why we decided to put together this series of sessions to break down things in easy to digest chunks. If you missed the live sessions, we’re recapping each of them in a dedicated blog. Following on from Music Publishing v Music Distribution, this session focusses on Performance Rights Organisations.

The Music Publishing Simplified sessions were hosted by Deepa Seshadri and Deborah Smith. Deepa currently works for Horus Music India on business development. Horus Music offers bespoke digital distribution services which allow musicians and labels to sell and release their content and was established in the U.K in 2006. Since 2016, Horus Music has had a presence in India. Debs is the director of Anara Publishing in the U.K. Debs started working at Horus Music in 2012, and then launched Anara Publishing with CEO Nick Dunn in 2017. Anara offers a whole suite of music publishing services to their roster, including admin, sync licensing, A&R and writing camps.

Catch up on Why Should I Register With A PRO on Horus Music India’s IGTV and scroll down for an overview of the session.


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What exactly is a PRO?

A PRO is a Performance Rights Organisation, an example of this in the U.K. is PRS. PRO’s collect income on behalf of songwriters and music publishers for public performances, an example of these include television, radio, clubs, restaurants, websites, live shows, bars and public spaces like gyms and shops. PRO is sometimes used as a blanket term for any “collection society,” but strictly speaking they’re only a PRO when collecting performance rights. There are also collection societies for mechanical rights. If you hear the term CMO, this means Collective Management Organisation – companies with this name collect both compositional and mechanical royalties. Examples include: IPRS, GEMA and SACEM. A CMO might also collect revenue for master recordings.

Why should you join a PRO?

Joining a collection society is the only way to get your writers share of any publishing revenue and registering your works at a PRO is also one way to prove you are the writer of the song. In some territories, like here in the UK, one of the only ways to get your music onto TV series on terrestrial channels like BBC, ITV, Channel 4 is by having your song registered with PRS because of their blanket license deal (more on this later!).

Do I have to join the PRO in my home territory (e.g IPRS in India?)

Technically, you don’t have to join a PRO in your home territory. For example, PRS in the UK accepts members worldwide, no matter where you live. However, in terms of logistics, it might be a good idea to work with a company in your time zone and country.

Are there different PRO’s for master rights and composition rights?

Yes, there’s different PROs in different territories for both master and compositional rights. For example, the PRO for master rights includes PPL in the UK, PPL in India, and Soundexchange in the US. If you’re just a songwriter, you don’t need to worry about master rights PRO’s, but if you’re a recording artist you need to make sure that your recordings are registered with them too. It is also worth noting that you can be a member of different PROs for different territories in the world.

What about mechanical rights?

Mechanical rights organisations collect royalties for songwriters, composers, and publishers. Mechanical rights are generated whenever a song is reproduced in the form of vinyl or CD, a download or stream. In the UK the organisation that collects this is called MCPS, this stands for Mechanical Copyright Protection Society. IPRS in India are a CMO which mean they collect BOTH compositional and mechanical royalties. In the US, examples of companies who collect mechanical royalties include The Harry Fox Agency, Music Reports, The MLC. We understand that mechanicals can be complex subject as a songwriter, and sometimes only by having a publisher do you have access to their infrastructure to collect the necessary royalties globally.

What are blanket licenses?

This is a license issued by a collection society to allow the user to perform/use all compositions represented by that society. Blanket licenses are typically used by TV networks and radio stations. For example, the BBC will pay PRS an upfront annual fee (let’s say £1million as an example), they then report the usage of each song on their channel to PRS who pay royalties to the songwriters and publishers of those songs. A publisher might also grant a blanket license directly to a client to use all of the songs in their catalogue for an upfront fee, which would be split between them and their writers. If you wanted to opt out of blanket licence deals, you’d need to talk to your PRO or publisher directly.

If you have a publisher, why do you need to join a PRO too?

Although having a publisher can help make sure your songs are registered correctly around the world, there are limitations to what they can do if you’re not registered with a PRO. For example, if you’re not registered with a PRO then they won’t be able to collect your writers share, which could result in you missing out on owed income. Registering with a PRO is a one-time occurrence, and regardless of what happens to the relationship with your publisher (i.e., if you end your relationship with your publisher and move to a different one) your IPI number (PRO membership number) will stay the same. To add to this, PROs are also rights bodies who fight for songwriter rights on your behalf, and some offer funding schemes to assist with music making and promotion. In the UK, it costs £100 to join PRS, and in India it costs 1200 INR to join IPRS, but you’ll earn that back through your royalties.

Do PRO’s collect in their country only? Do you need to join one in every country?

PROs are responsible for licensing platforms in their home territory and working with broadcasters in their home territory. Most PROs have reciprocal agreements with each other, which means you don’t have to join one in every country.  If you wish, you can also have various publisher’s representing you for different territories.

What do the terms “Writers Share” and “Publishers Share” mean?

Compositional royalties are split between the writers share and publishers share, but the % of the split depends on your contract with your publisher. Some income streams will assume that the split is 50/50, so if you’re getting more than 50% from your publisher, they’ll be paying you an additional % out of their designated 50%.

Do you have to distribute through Horus Music to be considered for the Anara Publishing Roster?

No, we listen to all submissions that we receive regardless of who they distribute with. Anara Publishing accepts submissions via the website and you can read our submission guidelines before getting in touch. Please make sure to send streaming links only.