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The following article is part of QuadCities.com’s partnership with local music website The Echo. For more, check out theechoqc.com!

By Cory Ewing

Becoming a music industry professional requires a base level of knowledge. Whether you’re looking to become an artist, producer, manager (the list goes on), there are fundamental aspects of the industry to know early on. 

  1. Know the ins and outs of your stage plot. 
  2. Learn the marketing basics.
  3. Know what a PRO is. 

We’ll get to the answers to questions one and two in future articles, but knowing what a PRO is is a HUGE factor in an artists’ career. 

Over the last twenty years, the internet has allowed the music industry to boom. The limited reach of gatekeepers led to the emergence of artists on the scene. These artists came with excellent sound, quickly developed fanbases through streaming services and live performances, and the ability to record material for the masses promptly. While creativity flowed limitlessly, widespread industry success was stifled. The financial backing and support of traditional record labels couldn’t match up to the number of artists and content. 

While this change was coming, the basic foundation of how and when an artist gets paid remained precisely the same. 

A Performing Rights Organization (PRO) is the entity that collects royalty payments on behalf of songwriters and publishers. Those royalty payments disperse to the copyright owners of a particular piece of music. Whenever you hear a song played on terrestrial (radio AM/FM), the internet, a restaurant, a TV show, basically anywhere in public, those companies must pay the PRO for the licensing to use that song. Once the PRO collects the licensing fees, the PRO pays the artist. The calculated payment from those collections is called performance royalty. As an artist, registering with a PRO should be one of the first steps when making music a career choice.

Pro Tips On Becoming A Music Industry ProfessionalLet’s take a look at some of the different PROs that are out there. You may have looked at the credits of a song, and somewhere in there, you see the words “ASCAP,” “BMI,” or “SESAC.” These are the top three – or industry professionals might say “the big three” – PROs in the United States. While every PRO essentially performs the same task, their membership fees, international operations, and payout structure may vary.

Honestly…whichever one you feel comfortable with. There really isn’t a right or wrong choice. It comes down to doing the research and deciding what is best for you and your career. It’s an important and long-term decision, so it’s strongly encouraged that artists go to each PRO’s website and get a feel for what they do and what separates them from the others. Check out their FAQs section, speak with fellow artists who have registered with each of them, then make the decision based on what information resonates more with you and what you’d like for your career.

Regardless of which one you choose, becoming a member of a PRO should be an exciting and productive step for every musician looking to take their career further. It’s one of the first things people in the industry will notice when they see an artist or band, they may want to work with. It gives the artist even more ownership of their creation and helps provide peace of mind knowing their organization is working to help show their hard work and effort is paying off.

*Information according to the ASCAP official website

**Information according to the BMI official website

***Information according to the SESAC official website

To read the rest of this article, check it out on The Echo HERE.

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Pro Tips On Becoming A Music Industry Professional
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