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To be eligible to become a writer affiliate, one must have
"written a musical composition, alone or in collaboration
with other writers, and the work is either commercially published
or recorded or otherwise likely to be performed." Writers
pay no initiation fee or annual dues.
Publisher affiliation is open to those who have the ability
and financial resources to undertake broad-based exploitation
of their works and have reasonable standards of literacy and integrity.
Publishers are charged an initiation fee but pay no yearly dues.
Writers usually sign a two year contract while publishers usually
sign a five year contract, but there is really no uniform term
for BMI affiliates.
The BMI Writer Clearance Form is the form BMI uses to record
information about an affiliated songwriter and to clear the title
of a song. Forms may be secured from any BMI office or on the
Internet at http://www.bmi.com/.
BMI is an agent representative for its members (music publishers
and writers) which issues nonexclusive use licenses (called performance
licenses) to users of music (e.g.,
radio stations, network television,
MTV, HBO, cable networks, stadiums, arenas, concert halls, nightclubs,
hotels, ballrooms, dance studios, exercise studios, restaurants,
casinos, malls, skating rinks, in flight entertainment, and other
commercial users of background music) for the non-dramatic public
performance of the copyrighted works of such members.
Performance licenses are granted to music users on a "blanket"
basis, or on a "per program" basis (e.g., for single
concert performances which are issued to the promoters or producers
renting the concert facility). See Cross-links: PERFORMANCE RIGHTS SOCIETY,
AMERICAN SOCIETY OF COMPOSERS, AUTHORS, AND PUBLISHERS (ASCAP),
RIGHT under "Small Right,"
and "Grand Right," LICENSE
under "Performance License,"
under "Performance Royalty."
The fees charged to obtain performance licenses vary. With
broadcast station licenses the use license fee is based on the
gross receipts of the station. The fee charged to clubs varies
with respect to the number of jukeboxes being used, hours of background
music played, seating capacity, the number of nights per week
live music is performed, and whether or not they charge an admission
to see such performances. (The performing artists themselves are
not expected to pay these fees, but instead, the venue management
or producer of the performances.)
The fees collected by BMI are about 44% from television broadcasts,
26% from radio, and 30% from other sources.
Royalties are paid to BMI members with regard to the number
of performances of the member's song. For example, the number
of radio airplay performances for a particular work is estimated
via a scientifically chosen representative cross section of radio
stations that are sampled each quarter. The stations being sampled
supply BMI with complete information as to all music performed.
These lists, called "logs," are put through an elaborate
computer system which multiplies each performance listed by a
factor which reflects the ratio of the number of stations logged
to the number licensed. BMI logs over a half million hours of
commercial radio programming annually. Non-commercial college
radio is also logged and payment is made separately for those
Television feature, theme and cue music is logged with the
aid of cue sheets, which list all music performed in the program.
TV networks provide BMI with cue sheets for all network programming.
All syndicated programs and motion pictures shown on local television
are logged through information obtained through cue sheets and
computerized data. Cable television is logged in a similar fashion.
All of these trackings are true trackings of all performances
and therefore BMI pays for each one of these types of performances
as opposed to the radio broadcast performance estimates.
Although BMI collects license fees from nightclubs, hotels,
concert halls, etc., it does not pay royalties to its members
for these performances. This is because it is not feasible to
track all of these performances. Reimbursement for such nonbroadcast
performances is reflected via increased payments for logged radio
and television performances.
Payments for commercial jingles are made, but only under certain circumstances
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