The easiest way to join ASCAP or BMI is by visiting their respective websites. The entire application process can be handled online – this is true for both songwriters who want to join and for publishers who want to join. ASCAP has a one time fee of $35.00 and BMI is free to songwriters. Collecting societies collect royalty payments from users of copyrighted works and distribute royalties to copyright owners.
PRO History 101
The first performing rights society was established in France in 1851. In the United Kingdom, the Copyright Act 1842 was the first to protect musical compositions with the Performing Right Society, founded in 1914 encompassing live performances. The rights for recorded or broadcast performance are administered by the Mechanical Copyright Protection Society, founded in 1924. Italy introduced a performing rights society in 1882 and Germany in 1915. In the United States, The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) was founded in 1914; Society of European Stage Authors & Composers (SESAC) in 1930 and Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) in 1939. Sociedad Puertorriqueña de Autores y Compositores de Musica (SPACEM) was founded in San Juan Puertorrico in 1953. SPACEM name was changed to ACEMLA, or Asociacion de Compositoes y Editores de Musica and remains today PRO No. 76 in the Cisacs roster of performing rights society.
SoundExchange goes hand in hand with both ASCAP and BMI. Where as you can only be a member with one PRO, SoundExchange goes with either, or. It is a vital nessesity in receiving your royalties.
SoundExchange is a non-profit performance rights organization that collects statutory royalties from satellite radio (such as SIRIUS XM), Internet radio (like Pandora), cable TV music channels and similar platforms for streaming sound recordings. The Copyright Royalty Board, which is appointed by The U.S. Library of Congress, has entrusted SoundExchange as the sole entity in the United States to collect and distribute these digital performance royalties on behalf of featured and non-featured recording artists, master rights owners (usually record labels), and independent artists who record and own their masters.