Benefits of Joining Overseas Royalty Societies

Affiliating with one or more overseas music royalty societies can yield BIG benefits for a qualifying composer. As with many publishers (in fact, ALL of big publishing), it’s possible to establish direct relations with foreign PROs, assigning them particular rights administration even for particular works in specified territories. Or, for all your works worldwide except in the US. It depends on the attractiveness of your catalogue to a foreign PRO and the deal you make.

The benefits?

— you get your overseas money TWO to FIVE years earlier;

— you pay ONE admin fee to the foreign society, not TWO, as when the foreign PRO sends your money to ASCAP;

— possible exemption from “cultural deductions” taken from gross distribution on performances in certain territories;

— default distribution of TWO-THIRDS to composer, ONE-THIRD to publisher from performances in certain territories worldwide, providing your contracts allow for it;

— DIRECT collection of “broadcast mechanical” royalties, which can represent ONE-THIRD of the distributable money depending on the territory. By law, ASCAP nor BMI can touch anything labeled “mechanical,” so in countless cases, US composers NEVER SEE these rightful earnings;

— With sufficient performances, possible qualification for a pension as with SACEM, the performing rights organization of France;

— more complete performance reporting; when, where, and how much. On our ASCAP statements, there’s just a work title, a foreign society, and a dollar amount. It’s a “black hole” of data, devoid of accountability;

— there can be increased insulation from cue sheet fraud perpetrated by unscrupulous sub-publishers and others in foreign territories. A society you join directly is much more likely to notify you about cue sheet modifications. Otherwise, they just don’t do it;

— MUCH greater ease in obtaining copies of cue sheets from overseas territories. All kinds of cues in all kinds of film & TV productions end up with the names of SOMEBODY ELSE else on music you may have composed.

Your blood would boil if you had ANY IDEA of the inaccuracy and outright fraud that goes on with cue sheets worldwide. And it’s been going on for decades.

Unfortunately, ASCAP may throw as many roadblocks in your way as possible to impede your direct affiliation with overseas societies. That includes intimidating you and/or the foreign societies. Why? It’s FREE MONEY to ASCAP and they won’t be able to hold your cash while earning interest on the float and deducting admin fees from your foreign collections. In the aggregate, ASCAP makes a lot of money doing this.

It’s another in a litany of policies that are clearly good for ASCAP, but AGAINST the best interests of American composers.

If any ASCAP executive wishes to debate this statement with me, PLEASE STEP FORWARD.

No one will, of course, because they can’t possibly win the argument. Indeed, reliance on our ignorance as composers is a fundamental element of many ASCAP policies.

As for the good and valuable services that ASCAP provides to composers, songwriters, and publishers, this publication is, of course, properly grateful and appreciative. No kidding.


  • June 17, 2009 @ 10:11 am

    ok mark I am finally ready. what is the “easiest” path to do this?
    or where can I find this info,

  • June 17, 2009 @ 11:27 am

    Great advice! I have signed up to join GEMA, and I agree with you, the process of getting my royalties is going to be much better. Could you explain (or point me to a website) about the direct collection of mechanicals? You wrote that a benefit is “direct collection of ‘broadcast mechanical’ royalties.” How is this done? I was told by GVL in Germany that I have to reside in Europe to get mechanicals from them.

  • Joan Siegel
    June 17, 2009 @ 12:56 pm

    Cool. So I can join SACEM, MCPS-PRS, GEMA, SGAE, SIAE and JASRAC all separately? How do I do that? Do they all cut checks in US Dollars? What about foreign taxes withheld? And, yeah, what about mechanicals?

    By being silent on BMI and SESAC are you saying they do a better job than ASCAP with foreign royalties?

  • June 17, 2009 @ 3:31 pm

    I joined GEMA by going to their website ( and downloading the application form in English. Look for the English link at the top of their site, then I think you click on “Become a Member.” I don’t know about the other societies, since GEMA is collecting my royalties for all territories outside North America. You can become a member of GEMA only if you get an exception from your current PRO (I requested an alteration to my ASCAP membership agreement, which states that ASCAP collects for North America, and GEMA collects for “rest of world.”
    Good luck,

  • June 18, 2009 @ 5:31 am

    I love the idea of 2/3rds collection on performance 1/3 publishing as almost all my tv deals scarf up the publishing rights. It would be good to flush out which foreign PRO is the best to use and what the steps are one would need to go to extricate the rights from BMI. I’m assuming the catalog stays with BMI or do we somehow need to monitor and make sure our entire catalog is accessable to the foreign PRO?

  • July 2, 2009 @ 4:37 pm

    The main thing is to contact the overseas PROs, initially through their websites, and then establish relations with the international depts. of each. From what I’ve experienced, SACEM of France is one of the best. They’re going to want your contracts, cue sheets, often sheet music and more. Ask EACH society what they expect of you, and vice-versa. It is, after all, deal making.

  • Ms.R. Sequiel
    August 27, 2009 @ 12:53 am

    I found the information very informative, especially for a newcomer to this industry. Thankyou. Sequiel3 Productions.

  • Oscar
    September 9, 2009 @ 5:21 pm

    Let’s point out that some of the European entities do not let you join them unless you sign a document stating that you are not part of any other performing society.

  • Blumuze
    September 23, 2009 @ 9:47 am

    I tried to do this a couple of years ago with no success at all. I was told I could only be represented by one PRO at a time — foreign or domestic.

  • September 26, 2009 @ 12:19 am

    Hi Mark,
    We red your very informative article.

    UBM RECORDS is member of GEMA, we are in the music production library business especially in TV and radio. Most income today are performing rights in TV.
    We control all US TV series and soaps played in Germany and send cash after 90 days to US composers including correct statements.

  • December 2, 2009 @ 3:53 pm

    I’m a member of ASCAP for the US & Canada, RAO for Russia and AKM (Austria) fro the rest.

    Working with ASCAP when I used to live in the US was awful.

  • January 5, 2010 @ 4:27 am

    Hi Mark,

    I’m based in the UK with PRS, about 20% of my royalties come from the US, do you think it would be worth while joining ASCAP to get these royalties direct, despite the dreadful stories about them from you and other composers? (I’m sure PRS are not that much different)

  • February 11, 2010 @ 12:14 pm

    Why do all the horror stories always use ASCAP as the example. Is BMI more transparent and writer/publisher friendly? All of our writer/publishing is with BMI. Just wondering.

  • February 14, 2010 @ 12:06 am

    I’ve been living and researching this stuff for a lotta years– and what I can tell you is that more composers have complained to me (and Film Music magazine) about ASCAP policy than have composers affiliated with BMI. Most systemic and individual complaints plus disappointment with treatment, in my experience, have come from ASCAP composers.

    That is not to say there aren’t composers who have problems with BMI, nor am I saying there are no composers with happy relations at ASCAP. I’m talking about general observations over a couple of decades.

    BMI must compete with ASCAP policy to keep a kind of balance. But I’ve observed there’s a fundamental difference in culture and agendas with BMI officials, and it places them in a more positive light than their counterparts at ASCAP.

    That’s been my experience… yours may vary.

    In any case, good fortune to you!

    Mark Holden
    Los Angeles

  • nan wilson
    March 3, 2010 @ 9:11 am

    in these discussions, sesac is rarely mentioned among the american societies. when looking at who to affiliate with, they should DEFINITELY be included. my experience is that they are responsive and accurate in reporting. you have to submit exception letters to all of the american societies if you choose to join a foreign society.

  • March 24, 2010 @ 7:26 am

    Very helpful post, thanks. So what about the downside? I mean apart from having to do all the contact work and contract signing by yourself, aren’t there any downsides mainly stemming from the fact that you are 1 tiny composer and you are not represented by a well known international entity?

  • casperjarrett
    April 25, 2010 @ 12:16 am

    So. Mark, how many international societies have you joined?

    Can you give us an example of hard dollar savings by joining a foreign PRO?

    I just wanna compose, I don’t wanna deal with a dozen foreign pros.

  • casperjarrett
    April 25, 2010 @ 12:18 am

    Let m get this straight. Composers and musicians trust ou own and hate siots.

    ASCAP is run by us, and BMI by suits, but you say more complain about ascap than bmi.


  • Paul
    May 13, 2010 @ 4:06 pm

    As others have mentioned, you can only be with one royalty collection agency at a time. I know because most of my work is launched in the US even though I am UK based so I went into this in great detail recently to collect royalties more quickly but found its not possible.

  • May 18, 2010 @ 7:39 pm

    Hi Paul– for American composers, at least, affiliating with one or more overseas societies is absolutely possible and beneficial for all the reasons stated in the article. Is it someone at PRS that’s telling you otherwise?

    Very best,

    Mark Holden

  • Teri Nelson Carpenter
    June 2, 2010 @ 1:05 pm

    If you want a company that has been very successful globally with direct memberships at all the major performing rights societies looking after your royalties and claiming all types of royalties you are eligible for but don’t currently receive, Reel Muzik Werks is your solution. We’re an indie company with a global reach. Faster payments and comprehensive administration of your copyrights.

    All the best,
    Teri Nelson Carpenter

  • Max Friedman
    June 29, 2010 @ 9:04 am

    Mark: For the record ASCAP now takes 0% from your foreign royalties for overhead. So that is not an issue. I joined SACEM a few years ago and find them a royal pain in the rear to deal with. I have to constantly remind them to pay me for performances I only learn about because my publishing (which I sometimes get) still comes from ASCAP. However, I have no way to know what they miss when I do not own the publishing. They are also hard to contact and I find them less than responsive in general. And the language barrier can be painful.

    Other than that they are fantastic!

    I much prefer dealing with ASCAP!!!

  • June 30, 2010 @ 2:21 am

    Interesting. There IS no Max Friedman with ASCAP or SACEM.

    If you’re going to misrepresent something as basic as who you are, I can only conclude you’re misrepresenting your experiences as well. Got agenda?

    I’ve NEVER heard of complaints on the order of your accusations re SACEM. I doubt they’re true.

    If you wish to stay at ASCAP, please do! But you’ll wait for your international royalties as described in the article. And you’ll still be faced with the collection of broadcast mechanicals– up to one-third of your money– because ASCAP can’t lawfully administrate them.

    You’re shootin’ blanks, buddy! Try again or contact me personally.

    Best wishes,

    Mark Holden

  • Max Friedman
    June 30, 2010 @ 8:58 am

    I prefer using a pseudonym as it avoids bloviators like yourself attacking me. I described my experience with SACEM and others may have different experiences. Though I suspect that French speakers will have a better time with them.

    Are you a member of SACEM? I doubt it.

  • June 30, 2010 @ 6:34 pm

    Sorry you feel attacked, as that was not my intention.

    On the other hand, resorting to name-calling on your part is hardly justified.

    The article emphasizes viable OPTIONS available to composers about a crucial matter where there is NEXT TO NOTHING in print. Most composers have found that knowledge to be helpful. If it antagonizes you, I suppose you’ll have to live with it.

    And you may suppose all you wish about my personal business, but you’d probably be mistaken. Besides, I’m not in the habit of disclosing such matters to impersonators. By using a pseudonym, you’re not accountable for what you post here. In contrast, I am very much accountable.


    Mark Holden

  • Max Friedman
    June 30, 2010 @ 10:56 pm

    Mr. Holden:

    It would probably be wise not to be so thin skinned about being called a “name” after having just suggested I was lying. I believe your comment, under any definition of the term, began the name calling. For the record I am not the only one not using their name as their tag. For one thing it would prevent me from being so completely honest about PRO’s like SACEM if I used my real name.

    It is clear to me that neither you nor Mark Northam are members of SACEM. One look at your IMDB profiles would suggest it would do neither of you much good considering your output.

    That said Mark Northam has every right to air his thought (yes I use the singular as it seems that Mark keeps making the same point over and over – ASCAP bad everyone else good.

    Here’s just a few things that are flat out wrong or misleading in Mr. Northam’s article.

    1. ASCAP announced some months ago that they no longer charge an administration fee for distributing overseas performances. Where have you been Mark? How about a retraction?

    2. To suggest that American composers could collect 2/3rd’s of the writers share (even with your caveat about the contract requiring that split to be explicitly stated) is misleading to anyone but a sophisticated reader. I have never seen a US writers contract that permitted the composer to collect 2/3rd’s of the performing rights. If they are out there they are as rare as dragons teeth.

    3. Mark suggests it is possible to instantly begin collecting the so called “Broadcast Mechanicals” from foreign societies once you affiliated with them. That is certainly not the case with SACEM. They require the composer’s contract to explicitly give those rights to the composer. Only in the case where the composers has retained their publishing are these royalties permitted to go to the composer – and only after you assign them to your self with a letter to SACEM (a ridiculous pain in the rear).

    4. ASCAP does not put roadblocks in the way of composers wishing to affiliate with foreign societies. For god sakes Richard Bellis (a board member of ASCAP) is affiliated with SACEM for France. I did as well and no one said boo. It was very easy.

    Finally, I find having to send SACEM a tax document every year (signed by my bank’s manager) stating that to the best of their knowledge I reside in the US for tax purposes a waste of my time. Especially since they know where I reside.

    There are some benefits to joining SACEM but I think those truly accrue when you have a lot of performances of your music on French television. Then perhaps you could become eligible for retirement benefits. Still I wish they would get someone with excellent English skills so I can converse with them properly.

    Mark Northam – before you tell me I am wrong I suggest you get on the phone to SACEM and ask them directly. Do not take the word of US based composers who claim to know everything. I would have thought you might have done that before writing such a poorly researched article but then it would have been less fun for you as a vehicle to attack ASCAP.

  • Mark Northam
    July 1, 2010 @ 2:50 am

    “Max”, exactly what article that I wrote are you griping about? The article you are commenting about here was written by Mark Holden. Perhaps before you spend so much time criticizing everybody else, you might look at your own accuracy.

    I’ll let Mark Holden respond to your points, but regarding the 2/3rds issue with SACEM, if you are actually a composer and work much, you’ll note that rarely does any composer contract specify the percentages of writer vs publisher. They always refer to “the writer’s share of public performance royalties”. I personally know a prominent USA composer who is also a SACEM member who gets 2/3rds writers on certain French broadcast royalties ONLY because he is a direct member of SACEM for France and Europe. Check the Berne Convention – that’s the mechanism that’s used to get these in certain cases.

    You also probably don’t know that if you’re an Australian composer, the Australian PRO APRA allows you to NEGOTIATE the writer/publisher split – it’s not locked in at 50/50 like it is in the USA.

    The article you’re complaining about was written in 2009, long before ASCAP said it was no longer charging an admin fee for incoming foreign royalties. I’ll suggest to Mark Holden that an update be added, but it’s also interesting to note that in Paul Williams’ announcement that the cost of administering foreign royalties was no longer being paid for by a charge on incoming foreign royalties, he didn’t tell us who was NOW paying for those costs….?? ASCAP has said that interest generated on foreign royalties as they sit for months in ASCAP’s bank accounts was directed to the members whose royalties earned it. Could it be that the interest policy was quietly changed, and the shift from admin fees to interest deductions is what happened? Who knows. But the costs to ASCAP for administering foreign royalties certainly haven’t disappeared, and ASCAP has not said where those costs have been shifted to and which members are now shouldering those costs.

  • Max Friedman
    July 1, 2010 @ 9:29 am

    Well another reason to use a pseudonym is to protect my identity when I make a stupid mistake like confusing the two Marks. My apology.

    I stand by my points however and as you are recycling dated poorly researched article full of mistakes you should have some responsibility for their content.

    But why let those minor details stand in the way of crapping on ASCAP.

    Look I don’t work for ASCAP (though I am a member) and they are not perfect but I feel about them about the same way churchill felt about democracy – the worst PRO except for all of the others.

    Oh and before repeating Holden’s error I would suggest contacting SACEM directly and asking them whether US composers signing work for hire agreements ever get 2/3rd’s of the performing rights unless it is spelling out contractually. Depending on anecdotal information from composers is bunk.

  • Mark Northam
    July 1, 2010 @ 10:36 am

    Apology accepted, Max, or whoever you are.

    I will leave it to Mark Holden to discuss the points he made in the article. Having seen direct evidence that USA based SACEM direct members are, in some cases and for some performances, getting 2/3rds writer share, I’ll stand by that.

    Max, if you want to have a civil, evidence-based discussion here about the merits of this or any other article, that’s fine. If you want to come on here and start issuing blanket invalidations of people and/or articles under a phony name and without any evidence, that’s not appropriate. When you post under your actual name, that earns you the right to be a bit more critical than you get to be hiding behind a phony name.

  • July 1, 2010 @ 1:46 pm

    With regard to ASCAP’s announcement about no longer deducting admin fees from foreign performance royalties, I’ll be posting an addendum to the article above for clarification. No “retraction” is requisite, as the facts were correct at the date of publication and long after. Admittedly, I wish I’d done this sooner for the sake of accuracy and timeliness.

    “Max” has posted twice since I’ve had time to respond. His overriding message is a blanket condemnation of the article about composer’s rights in affiliating directly with foreign societies. While he’s entitled to his opinion, it’s lots of smoke and no flame from an anonymous poster. He can spew nonsense, overstate, misinterpret and misquote my words, twist meanings, and generally muddy the water on this topic – all with complete impunity.

    I’m particularly struck by the assertion that anonymity enables “Max” to be honest. It’s my assertion that such a ploy is actually a cloak for making unfounded insinuations and reaching false conclusions.

    Now for the debunk, beginning with point 2: the article never states “that American composers could collect 2/3rd’s of the writers share” as is asserted. That’s a misquote. In actuality, songwriters and composers can collect 100% of the writer’s share. If Max wishes to dispute the fact that SACEM’s default distribution to its members is anything other than that stated in the article, let him take it up with the French.

    The article is a brief and basic introduction to the subject of international affiliation– it’s not an encyclopedia. As for contractual language, I presume “Max” has a lawyer. If he’s never seen a clause enabling the collection of 100% of the writer’s share at customary rates established per territory, he has now.

    As for point 3, composers are entitled to collect their share of broadcast mechanicals in those territories practicing such distribution. It is NOT contingent on the writer to own publishing, nor is it contingent on performance royalties. If a composer is not collecting broadcast mechanicals directly, they’re being paid to the publishers who are bound to pay the writer their share. I again emphasize that contractual language is key. Some composers surrender ALL RIGHTS of authorship as a condition of employment. Others don’t.

    Referring to roadblocks in affiliating directly, “Max” can assemble his witnesses and I’ll assemble mine. Not to mention that in 2001, AFJ2 threw up an encumbrance limiting a writer’s window of opportunity in changing societies, and the ASCAP Board applied those limitations to foreign affiliations as well. Quite erroneously, IMHO, and certainly a roadblock.

    Finally, composers have to conform to the rules of ANY PRO they affiliate with. Lots of rules and polices particular to each society. I’d have thought that kind of thing to be self-evident. Debunk complete.

    The entire point of the article is to acquaint composers with legitimate CHOICES they have with regard to their royalties. I don’t see why any composer would object to that. But it appears to infuriate “Max” to the point of issuing blanket, wholesale dismissals such as “recycling dated poorly researched article full of mistakes.” I ABSOLUTELY REFUTE THAT STATEMENT AS UNJUST AND IRRESPONSIBLE. I also refute the allegation that I or anyone else at this publication wants to unjustly beat-up on ASCAP. While I am critical of some ASCAP policies that skew against composers, I have praised others.

    It’s particularly objectionable that some ghost is casting aspersions my way and inserting all kinds of innuendo that is NOT a part of my thinking process nor my writing. Because almost everything in “Max’s” last missive appears to be hell-bent in obfuscating the choices composers have, I question his motivations and agenda. Responsible parties own-up to their words instead of hiding behind anonymity.

    Mark Holden

  • September 3, 2010 @ 1:09 pm

    The very first PRO I ever joined was ASCAP in the NY office. Soon afterwards I changed my mind and decided to go with SESAC(NY office), which I am still a member of, and satisfied with. If I recall the conversations I had with both reps from ASCAP and then later SESAC, I was informed that I could not be apart of another PRO wanting to leave and join another at the same time.

    But I never remember anyone every mentioning that those stipulations applied to foreign PRO’s. Then again, I never asked. However, not too long ago, I and a friend of mine here in Philly started collaborating with a latino singer/songwriter artist from Peru, that lived in FL, but traveled often throughout here in the NE of the US promoting his music. I spoke to him about some of the things that I was involved in with music, and talked to him about my PRO, SESAC. He said that he already had been thinking about joining at the new Miami SESAC location as an artist.

    Long story short, SESAC told him that he had to show “written/physical” proof that he was no longer a member of his PRO in Peru before he could join SESAC. So, what do I know, there seems to be conflicting information about this topic. Some say you can do it, others say you can’t.

    I do know that SESAC has been well on top of paying me royalties for my music played in the US, as well as overseas. But I wouldn’t mind also being able to to take advantage of the services by SOCAN, PRS and etc. There is a big world out there. I mean when you think about, Michael Jackson sold the most albums in history with “Thriller”. But what most people are reluctant to remind people is that half of those history making record sales were outside of the US. I mean, if I could get more accurate royalties from Japan, Germany, Sweden, France, UK, Australia, Mexico, etc, etc, etc…..

  • September 5, 2010 @ 6:12 pm

    Good observations, Dana, and thanks for posting. Yes, every PRO in the world has its own set of regulations and policies. There is no “one size fits all” rule that will apply to every writer in every country. For instance, it’s my understanding that Australia’s society, APRA, does not allow its members to affiliate directly with foreign PROs, nor does it allow foreign writers to join APRA specifically for their Australian performances. Quite honestly, I have no idea about Peruvian policies.

    The scope of my article, of course, is limited to American composers with ASCAP or BMI who have the lawful right to join one or more foreign societies for their overseas performances. Naturally, each foreign PRO allows for such membership subject to their own rules and policies. But it IS done and can be highly beneficial for qualifying American writers for the reasons stated in the article.

    With regard to SESAC members, I have no specific knowledge one way of the other about foreign affiliations, but would be shocked if there was policy forbidding it. If you’d care to ask your SESAC representative, we’d be very pleased if you’d post their response.

    Thanks again,

    Mark Holden

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  • September 25, 2010 @ 6:39 am

    These comments regarding PROs are not going to help 90% of the composers out there.

    We have to realize that most of us do not make enough money to go through the legal hassle of tracking down royalties from foreign entities. Composers need to focus on doing business on a grander scale so that they can generate more revenue. They should then work with accounting and auditing frims to see how much money is lost or unrecovered.

    If you are not losing out on at least $20,000 a year on royalties, you are really wasting time by complaining.

  • Ned
    March 14, 2011 @ 1:57 pm

    “If you are not losing out on at least $20,000 a year on royalties, you are really wasting time by complaining.”

    That is an extremely ignorant thing to say Yadgyu, and undermines those of us who are climbing the ladder. It is ignorance like this which will put people off, so cut it out please.

    $20,000 a year in royalties is not to be sniffed at, nor is $10,000 or $5,000 or even less.

    This is for those of you, like me – who aren’t at that stage yet. But don’t EVER think that it is not worth complaining.

  • Mike
    March 23, 2011 @ 2:45 pm

    I have over 30 full feature movies released worldwide, playing regularly on cable TV, rentals, etc. I’ve only gotten royalties domestically here in the US and from the UK. I’ve asked ASCAP, lawyers and fellow composers about how to get those overseas royalties from other countries where I know for a FACT they are playing all the time. I can never get a straight answer. I’ve been approached by sub publishers but I’m worried they are shady. Then after reading this page, I’m more frustrated. Everyone seems so upset, I can relate to this. Based on what I make in the US on royalties, I’m guessing I’m probably missing out on over 30-40K a year. Or maybe its only 10cents! – I have no idea and have absolutely no idea what to do.

  • April 3, 2011 @ 7:10 pm

    Hi Mike– you need to get VERY assertive with ASCAP, who presumably collects for you worldwide unless you’ve specified otherwise. Don’t deal with Member Services, go directly to the Film & Television office and speak with an executive.

    Confirm that your cue sheets with ASCAP are in order on ALL your film titles. Provide as much data as possible as to WHERE and WHEN your titles are being exhibited in foreign markets. Be nice and be firm, bringing all the facts to bare. Should you feel you’re being blown-off, go to the exec’s boss and appeal for just treatment.

    If you finally can’t get a right answer out of ASCAP, you need to look into affiliating with one or more foreign societies to collect for you outside of North America.

    With certainty, you need to get to the bottom of this.

    Best wishes,

    Mark Holden

  • May 23, 2011 @ 12:51 am

    This is a great article, if a little depressing to read. I always had a suspicion that ASCAP was taking advantage but this just tipped me over the edge. I’m signing up to as many foreign PROs as possible. Though I hear that if you sign with certain ones they don’t allow you to sign with others?

  • May 23, 2011 @ 3:30 pm

    Yo Lux Car Addict – societies such as JASRAC (Japan) and APRA (Australia) don’t allow for multi-affiliations, but of course, they’ll pay the PRO you specify for performances in those countries, presumably ASCAP.

    Most (if not all) of the European societies allow for multi-affiliation, even the ability to strip-out particular rights for particular works to specified societies in specified territories.

    I wouldn’t join “as many foreign PROs as possible” just for the sake of it. Based on best info, I’d start with SACEM (France) for the world excluding North America, except for Spanish-speaking territories, where you should consider SGAE of Spain.

    A lot depends on where you have the most performances. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the policies of any foreign society before you join.

    Best wishes,

    Mark Holden

  • Joyce
    July 30, 2011 @ 12:41 pm

    Mark, thanks for writing a very useful article! Just wondering–what foreign PROs do you recommend joining for Japan, China, Taiwan, and other areas in Asia, that allow for multi-affiliation? My music is geared toward markets in those territories.


  • October 31, 2011 @ 2:01 am

    Ned Said “That is an extremely ignorant thing to say Yadgyu, and undermines those of us who are climbing the ladder. It is ignorance like this which will put people off, so cut it out please.”

    Musicians really need to get over themselves. If they are not wise enough to figure out what they are worth or how much money they make, they need to quit. It would be much easier to get a day job, especially one with a union or government, than it is to chase music royalties.

    We must remember that most musicians are not that smart. Most have dropped out of school to pursue a career that takes an average of 10 years to make a living wage. They put in a lot of work for very little money. Unfortunately, a great deal of musicians quit well before that 10 year threshold.

    Even the musicians that are educated usually lack the mental ability to read and do math beyond an 8th grade level. This is why we always hear stories of poor little Johnny Hottunes who got “screwed by the record industry”. If Johnny Hottunes would have taken the time to read, write, and do math on a professional level, he could avoid 90% of the pitfalls of the record industry.

  • Carole Hallam
    April 20, 2012 @ 3:37 am

    just wanted to add to this subject between SACEM and for me BMI.I inherited my father’s music after he died in 1977, He was orginally with BMI but in the early 70’s he joined SACEM because the last 10 years he was recording just in Europe. I went to BMI to switch all his music to SACEM and they wanted to know why, I stated that the checks from BMI were so small and the checks from SACEM were a great deal larger, they tried to make me change my mind, but I had seen my father’s checks before he died and it was sad. I also understand that you do not collect artists royalties from AM or FM radio here in the USA ( please excuse me I’m still on a learning curve).But you do in France and I beleive the rest of Europe. Plus Google which has YouTube made a agreement with SACEM to pay royalties two years ago. That indeed is a first. So much is stolen on Youtube and the artist receives nothing here in the USA.If you want to change that you need to go to and then click on Musicfirst to send a message to congress to change this law. thank you

  • April 20, 2012 @ 9:20 am

    Thanks for posting, Carole. Re the learning curve, BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC collect license fees for public performances on domestic AM/FM radio stations and distribute royalties to composers and publishers. But as you’ve observed, there are benefits in affiliating with one or more foreign societies for international performances. I commend your father for his foresight.

  • Giovanni
    July 2, 2012 @ 10:53 am

    Hi Mark, I am a member of italian SIAE but I live in the States. What about if I also join Ascap, I saw on their website that I cannot register with them if I am affiliated with SIAE but I think if I do that they are not going to find it out. Also, what about if I register a song with two different names with ASCAP and SIAE so I don’t have to pay the US copyright to copyright my song since SIAE also works as copyright?
    sorry if it is a bit confusing….:)
    thank you very much!

  • July 2, 2012 @ 7:16 pm

    Hi Mark, this page has been very informative and inspiring. I’ve spent many years just getting ‘up and running’ as a film composer. At first I was just trying to get hired and get experience — all this contractual stuff was really an afterthought. I’ve scored 14 feature films at this point and I know it’s important to get everything correctly documented. I’m with ASCAP now and I’m considering joining SACEM. My question is how can you find out when/where your films are showing overseas? Is there a web database (ya right), or are you relying on people you know personally in those areas?

  • July 3, 2012 @ 8:21 am

    Hi Giovanni– my article is written from the perspective of U.S. composers affiliating directly with overseas societies. On the assumption that you’re an Italian citizen belonging to SIAE, I’m not at all qualified to comment on your situation under Italian policy. Are you having particular difficulties with SIAE? If so, I’d advise you to take those problems straight to them and seek a solution. However, if no workable answers are forthcoming, there’s bound to be a way to resign from SIAE. In that scenario, you’d have a number of options – maybe joining SOCAN or ASCAP – opening up the possibility of having one PRO collect for you in North America and perhaps another (SACEM or SGAE) collect in Europe and elsewhere in the world.

    But I urge you not to try to “fool” anyone as to your affiliations. The societies WILL find out, and if this creates confusion as to territories and other issues, your repertory might be placed in suspense and you simply wouldn’t receive your royalties. Carefully negotiate any new deal with your source society and any destination societies as to precise dates of modified responsibilities and territories IN WRITING. You may also have one or more publishers to consult in the process. Basically, operating “on the sly” with affiliations will be a short road to chaos and nonpayment.

    As for re-titling, you may be surrendering fundamental rights and remedies under copyright laws indigenous to every country in which your music is performed. That too may lead to confusion, trouble, and nonpayment. In Japan, for instance, retitling can even represent legal exposure.

    As for your copyrights registered in Italy, you are protected under international treaties and conventions throughout most of the world. But should you choose to leave SIAE, I recommend you consult with an entertainment law attorney as to copyright registration policy.

    The music business is complicated enough as it is. Please step carefully and advisedly as you make choices about the administration of your musical works worldwide.

    Very best wishes,

    Mark Holden

  • December 6, 2015 @ 12:55 pm

    Well well well,

    I am an actor composer and songwriter sadly registered with SIAE (Italian society).
    Strictly speaking and without much explanation I can tell all of you IT IS ALL A SCAM.

    We, artists, will always be victimised by a system that uses us for making money.
    Those societies, pretending to help us for a petty exchange, belong to secret societies such as FREEMASONRY and ILLUMINATI, they are there to rule the world, they are there to use us in order to afford the best leaving style to OUR EXPENSES.

    Personally I am leaving SIAE for good and in order to protect myself from being sued by law I am not gonna tell you why.
    After a deep investigation and prolonged private investigation I came to a conclusion: one of the best PRO in the world is based in London and is called PRS, please check it out right now in google.

    Something to make you wander:
    1) regardless which society you are coming from….your due money are always in defect, and when I say in defect I mean never above, rather…….always below to what you deserve.
    2) Do you really understand every figures represented in the quarterly sheet? and when you ask for clarifications are they always answering you clearly? Why do not they pose explicit explanations over your personal financial statement?
    3) WHAT? WHAT? WHAT? REALLY? did they say in case of dispute you will have free legal support? hahahhahha!!!!!!!!!!! yes! “the moon is red not white”……CAPISCI?
    4) every time you pay an annual fee there is a monetary speculation. How much do you pay? Have you checked PRS in London? not yet? really? well…how about £60 one off fee for good?

    Be smart my friends and DO NOT FULE THE DIRTY ENGINE.
    GOOD LUCK to al creators in the world.

  • December 6, 2015 @ 1:02 pm

    Well well well,

    I am an actor composer and songwriter sadly registered with SIAE (Italian society).
    Strictly speaking and without much explanation I can tell all of you IT IS ALL A SCAM.

    We, artists, will always be victimised by a system that uses us for making money.
    Those societies, pretending to help us for a petty exchange, belong to secret societies such as FREEMASONRY and ILLUMINATI, they are there to rule the world, they are there to use us in order to afford the best leaving style to OUR EXPENSES.

    Personally I am leaving SIAE for good and in order to protect myself from being sued by law I am not gonna tell you why.
    After a deep investigation and prolonged private investigation I came to a conclusion: one of the best PRO in the world is based in London and is called PRS, please check it out right now in google.

    Something to make you wander:
    1) regardless which society you are coming from….your due money are always in defect, and when I say in defect I mean never above, rather…….always below to what you deserve.
    2) Do you really understand every figures represented in the quarterly sheet? and when you ask for clarifications are they always answering you clearly? Why do not they pose explicit explanations over your personal financial statement?
    3) WHAT? WHAT? WHAT? REALLY? did they say in case of dispute you will have free legal support? hahahhahha!!!!!!!!!!! yes! “the moon is red not white”……CAPISCI?
    4) every time you pay an annual fee there is a monetary speculation. How much do you pay? Have you checked PRS in London? not yet? really? well…how about £60 one off fee for good?

    Be smart my friends and DO NOT FUEL THE DIRTY ENGINE.
    GOOD LUCK to al creators in the world.

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