Performing Rights Organizations 101

I have recently been approached by a number of live-venue establishments regarding cease & desist letters from Performing Rights Organizations (PROs).  There is strong disconnect between the artists who want to play these venues and the venue operators themselves.  Here are a couple of points to note if you are an artist who is affiliated with a PRO, or an establishment who hosts performances of a PRO-represented artist.

  1. Artists should know which PRO they are affiliated and why.  A common misconception is that PROs are the Publishing entity for an artist.  This simply is not true.  PROs maintain, regulate, and collect from any performances of an artist's work.  This means radio, digital radio, television, internet, and live performances.  That's the bottom line.
  2. Establishments that are using a PRO's artist must pay a licensing fee to the PRO for ability to have that artist perform.  These blanket licenses are usually cost effective and ensure that the artist is properly compensated.
  3. If you find yourself on the receiving end of a cease & desist letter from a PRO, there is generally a good reason for it.  Don't hesitate to call the PRO representative and/or artist for clarification.  After all else fails, seek the appropriate counsel to help you through this process.


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